Tim Kaine for VP: Ideal choice or candidacy poison?

As the Commonwealth’s own governor makes Obama’s short list, here’s a look at the pros and cons of Kaine gunning for the number two spot.

Tim Kaine could be ideal choice for Obama, marking the first time a VP candidate brought with him his state in almost 50 years. However, he could prove to be a toxic companion that could poison the entire candidacy.

Kaine-Obama history

In the early 90s, Tim Kaine was the superstar of the Richmond City Council. Something like a Bill Pantele, only less cankerous. Since then, Kaine has risen from Mayor to Governor of the Commonwealth.

Kaine was one of the first to endorse Barack Obama for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Kaine and Obama stood lockstep at Plant Zero in May of 2007, promoting the little-known Senator from Illinois. Virtually every other high-ranking Democrat had already sided with Hillary Clinton. We all know how that strategy turned out for them.

It took a lot of courage for Kaine to back Obama, and he has been rewarded for it on a national level. Since then, Kaine has traveled with Obama to support the cause, even introducing him at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner back in February.

Obama’s Dilemma

So Obama is facing an interesting question. Should he select a running mate that has been with him from the start? Someone who not only has good judgment, but someone who he can rely on when things get tough? Or, should he select someone who can deliver things he cannot? Perhaps an issue like foreign policy via Joe Biden.

Running mate selections have been completely lackluster in recent years. Cheney? Gore? Quayle? Give me a break. There hasn’t been an interesting VP choice in 50 years.

Kaine’s Pros

Kaine is the poster boy for the new Democratic Party. Ala Jim Webb, he represents all the ideals of a Republican, but in a Democratic wrapping. He was a missionary to Honduras – an assault to the Republicans evangelical stranglehold. He married the daughter of a Republican governor (A. Linwood Holton). He epitomizes the Republican’s worst nightmare.

His image and history is squeaky clean. Like a squeegee. McCain’s cronies aren’t going to dig up a John Edwards baby momma-type scandal from the Kaine camp.

Oh, yeah, there are those 13 electoral votes he could turn from red to blue.

Kaine’s apex was delivering the 2006 Democratic response to President Bush’s State of the Union Address. Since then, things have been downhill.

The Cons

Kaine’s general VP faults are obvious. His relatively young age. The inexperience of a single-term Governor. The lack of foreign diplomacy/domestic/defense experience is clear.

However, Kaine’s lack of success as governor is particularly troubling. Kaine failed to make inroads with Republicans on the budget and transportation, which raises doubts about Kaine’s ability to build bi-partisan support on the federal level. The VP’s only “job” is to be president of the Senate, and ideally he should be building bridges, not burning them.

Ties with his own party are even worse – state Democrats didn’t even bother bringing his transportation bill up for vote – a far cry from support for the standing Governor. “Disaster” is the only word that can sum up Kaine’s attempts at transportation funding over the past few years.

Renowned political professor and analyst Larry Sabato rates Kaine’s performance in the bottom quartile of Virginia governors. Bringing on Kaine to shore up Obama’s lack of executive experience isn’t very effective when said governor hasn’t managed his state well.

The Decision

The Virginia connection seems like a no-brainer. Select a Virginia stalwart for Vice President – a pick-em of Mark Warner, Jim Webb, or Tim Kaine, and you’re virtually guaranteed Virginia in November.

But it’s not that simple. Webb and Warner have yanked their names from consideration. Kaine is left. And while he might seem like a great choice to Obama insiders, Virginians know more. Kaine appears to be an asset on the national level, but if selected, he could prove to be Obama’s biggest liability.

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Sam Fetchero

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Eric on said:

    I like Tim Kaine. Who doesn’t?? I’ve been trying to go to Douthat State Park for 2 years now – just because he said it was the best state park in Va. (and it must be its always booked for camping.) Seriously, though besides thinking he is a like able guy. What has he done?? I know, I know he was on Council, Mayor, Lieutenant Governor and Governor. But what are his accomplishments?? — Maybe those early years were just hard for a good guy to stand out — especially during the Leonidas Young, Sa’ad El-Amin and Gwendolyn Hedgepath and Reva Trammell years…

  2. Kelly on said:

    I am a little upset that we may have to give up a potentially good leader for our commonwealth to a useless position like the vice presidency. Did we learn nothing from the “John Adams” miniseries?

  3. Richard on said:

    I watched John Adams with Kelly. I would worry about Kaine’s teeth.

  4. Rasmussen Markets, the political stock market, has Evan Bayh as the most likely VP nominee with ~30% chance of being selected. Tim Kaine is @ ~20%, although he was above 30% over the weekend. Kathleen Sebelius is #3 with about 15%.

    Political stock markets are an interesting idea, but I don’t think they provide any additional information. The idea behind them is that many people with inside information will trade, which will help the stock market identify the winner based on all the information out there (public and private). However, in reality, traders don’t have any inside information, so they make their own conclusions based on public information, and markets reflect educated guesses but nothing more.

  5. Immy Ture on said:

    Tim Kaine made millions sueing Nationwide insurance company because he proved in court that the insurance company was racist because they didnt return phone calls from people seeking insurance in black neighborhoods. I never understood how you could be racist on a telephone. Tim Kaine also argued that since the insurance companies have alot of money that they shouldnt have a problem paying the over 100 million settlement. Soon after he won this case he became governor. Seems to me winning that lawsuit played a big part in his political rise. He knows how to play the race card just like Obuma

  6. Scott Burger on said:

    I have different reasons for not liking Kaine as VP. As Richmond’s Mayor, Kaine had a big part in appointing Calvin Jamison as City Manager. Jamison’s tenure was a disaster, even by Wilder standards.

  7. @ Immy:
    Companies that discriminate on the basis of race should get sued!

    Kaine’s record as a lawyer is pretty stellar, standing up for people who were discriminated against on the basis of race and disability. Sure beats John Edwards chasing ambulances (and the ladies). Kaine also taught legal ethics at U of R.

    @Scott: Even worse is the fact that Kaine still defends Jamison performance as City Manager.

  8. Immy Ture on said:

    @Burger, how can you be a racist on the telephone? you cant see the person, plus I think Kaine was being a sophist when he said that the company makes alot of money so 100s of millions is no big deal. I aint impressed by that

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