14 March 2011

Not Yet Raising Kaine

Ever since freshman Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) announced that he was not seeking a second term, there has been fevered speculation that former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) would run to keep the seat blue.

Considering the razor thin margin that Webb won his 2006 election and Gov. Bob McDonnell’s impressive 18% victory in 2009, holding the seat will be difficult and costly for Democrats in a likely rematch against former Senator George Allen (R-VA).   Other rumored Democrat candidates would be defeated freshman Congressman Tom Periello (D-VA 5th) and long time Representative Boucher (D-VA 9th) who lost in the 2010 Tea Party Tsunami.

Kaine is well position as the head of the Democrat National Committee so he has probably built up enough political chits to conduct a tough fought campaign.  But Kaine is a young politician who was reportedly on a short list to be Vice President in the 2008 cycle, so it does not burnish your national credentials if you lost your Congressional race and then run for higher office.

About a month ago, President Obama called Kaine to encourage him to run for the Senate seat.  Kaine was said to be reconsidering his initial reluctance to run but insisted that he needed more time to decide. Today, Kaine spoke before some University of Richmond Law students and indicated that he was “likely” to run for Senate, but Kaine stopped short of declaring his candidacy.

Kaine’s favorable remarks towards running for Senate sent the Twitter-verse ablaze.  DNC spokesman tried to walk back misinterpretations of Kaine’s statements to deny that he was running but merely confirming that he was likely to run.  Sure that is plausible but it was a probably deference with a nod and a wink.   The DNC will need to find another leader, there are legal consequences to becoming a candidate.  Moreover, most candidates want a flasher declaration of candidacy than a Law School Q & A session.

Kaine’s spokesman insisted that he will not announce anything this week, including at a dinner honoring his friend ex-Rep. Boucher.   But it looks increasingly like 2012 will have a race between former Gov. Kaine and former Gov. Allen, which Roll Call deems a toss up.

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