Gov. Tim Kaine (D)
Elected: 2005, term expires Jan. 2010, 1st term.
Born: Feb. 26, 1958, St. Paul, MN .
Education: Univ. of MO, B.A. 1979, Harvard U., J.D. 1983.
Family: Married (Anne Holton); 3 children.
Elected office: Richmond City Cncl., 1994-98; Mayor, 1998-2001; Lt. gov., 2001-05.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1983-2000.
Democrat Tim Kaine was elected governor of Virginia in 2005. He grew up in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, where his father was an electrical engineer who opened a small manufacturing business and his mother taught home economics. He attended the University of Missouri, where he graduated in three years, then went on to Harvard Law School. Midway through, Kaine left to spend nine months teaching at a Jesuit mission in Honduras, then returned to complete his law degree in 1983. It was there that he met his wife, Anne Holton, the daughter of Linwood Holton, Virginia’s first Republican governor in the 20th century. They settled in Richmond, where Kaine went into private practice as a civil rights attorney. In 1994, he defeated an incumbent to win a seat on the Richmond City Council, and four years later he was elected mayor. His record as mayor was closely scrutinized in 2001 when he ran for lieutenant governor. His opposition to the death penalty and support for gun restrictions and abortion rights led his conservative opponent to paint him as an extreme liberal. Kaine talked about setting aside political divisions, focused on quality of life issues and won a narrow 50%-48% victory.
|Tim Kaine (D)||1,025,942||(52%)|
|Jerry Kilgore (R)||912,327||(46%)|
|Tim Kaine (D)||Unopposed|
Virginia’s lieutenant governorship does not confer much responsibility, but it is an excellent platform for running for governor. Kaine immediately was assumed to be the Democratic Party’s leading candidate for governor in 2005. Republicans also had a presumptive nominee: Jerry Kilgore, a conservative former prosecutor from southwest Virginia who was elected attorney general at the same time Kaine was elected lieutenant governor. Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, who was considering running for president, took an interest in electing his successor. In a mutually beneficial arrangement, he campaigned across the state with Kaine and raised money for him in the hopes of polishing his own legacy and proving himself as a serious national candidate with an ability to connect with red-state voters. Kaine, in turn, sought to tap into Warner’s popularity. He frequently touted the accomplishments of the “Warner-Kaine administration” and framed his candidacy as an opportunity to continue Warner’s policies.
Yet Kaine ran with a dramatically different strategy than the one Warner successfully employed in 2001. Warner had called himself a “fiscal conservative” and pledged not to raise the income or sales taxes. He opposed any new gun control laws and wooed the National Rifle Association, which remained neutral, quite a victory for a Democrat. He ran ads featuring old pickup trucks and bluegrass music, and he traveled to all parts of rural Virginia to build an urban-rural coalition. That approach was hardly practical for Kaine, a former big-city mayor who held positions well to the left of Kilgore. Instead, Kaine pitched a quality-of-life agenda designed to appeal to urban and suburban voters, one that emphasized tax relief for homeowners, a statewide pre-kindergarten initiative, a balanced approach to growth and new transportation solutions.
Kilgore took an opposite tack. He relied on hot-button issues like the death penalty and illegal immigration, dismissing Kaine as “too liberal for Virginia.” In one tough ad, a man whose son and daughter-in-law were murdered criticized Kaine for opposing the death penalty for “the worst mass murderer in modern times.” Unlike the last two Republicans to win the governorship, Kilgore had no signature proposal such as ending parole (George Allen in 1993) or eliminating the car tax (Jim Gilmore in 1997). He criticized Kaine’s support for a controversial, Warner-backed $1.3 billion tax increase that passed in 2004. Kaine talked frequently about how his Catholic faith colored his positions, while Kilgore accused Kaine of a certain political convenience in opposing the death penalty and abortion on moral grounds while insisting that he would not seek to change the laws or to infringe on a woman’s right to choose. “We can’t trust Tim Kaine,” concluded Kilgore ads.
Kaine won 52%-46%, a victory powered by large margins in suburban Northern Virginia where Kilgore’s Appalachian twang may have seemed out of place. Kaine crushed Kilgore 60%-38% in suburban Fairfax County, the state’s most populous. He won 74% in nearby Arlington County and 72% in the city of Alexandria. Kaine’s focus on managing growth enabled him to carry six of the state’s 10 fastest-growing counties, including two, Loudoun and Prince William, that have been among the fastest-growing in the nation. Kaine’s victory in one of two governor’s races that year was viewed by the national party as a harbinger for the 2006 midterm elections. Shortly after being sworn into office, he was asked to deliver the nationally-televised Democratic response to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address. In office, he faced Republican majorities in the state House and Senate and had some successes in his first year, which included legislation requiring rigorous teacher evaluations. But he was unable to deliver on his primary objective of finding a reliable source of transportation financing to relieve traffic congestion. Resistance from House Republicans led to rejection of his package of tax and fee increases. Kaine did not stand in the way of four executions of death row inmates, though he delayed the execution of a fifth after questions were raised about the inmate’s mental capacity. He symbolically refused to sign a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that was approved by the General Assembly for placement on the November 2006 ballot.
Kaine’s second year was dominated by two events in 2007: the mass shootings at Virginia Tech University and passage of a compromise $1 billion transportation package. Kaine was in Japan on an overseas trade mission at the time a deranged Virginia Tech student, armed to the teeth, opened fire on fellow students during classes, killing 32 before taking his own life. Kaine immediately flew back home and won praise for his handling of the tragedy. On the transportation package, Kaine managed to reach an agreement with the Republican House and Senate on the biggest transportation funding increase in two decades. Since Republicans would not agree to a significant statewide tax increase, the plan called for borrowing up to $3 billion over 10 years and giving taxing powers to regional authorities in the two traffic-choked big metro areas, Northern Virginia and Tidewater. But the plan was frustrated when the state Supreme Court ruled that the regional authorities couldn’t raise taxes.
As part of his $78 billion, two-year budget in 2008, Kaine proposed $1.1 billion for transportation, with a penny sales tax increase in Northern Virginia and Tidewater. But House Republicans steadfastly resisted it. Kaine was frustrated too when the Federal Transit Administration in early 2008 seemed poised to refuse funding for extending Metrorail to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County. But in December 2008, the last full month of the Bush administration, the FTA reversed itself and approved $900 million in financing; the rest was to come from special taxing districts in the edge cities of Tysons Corner and Reston and increased tolls. Barred from considering tax increases by the Republican House, Kaine in 2008 and early 2009 cut spending and laid off employees to adjust for revenue shortfalls. He also used money from the state’s rainy day fund. He had one success, when he and House Speaker William Howell reached agreement on a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants that passed in February 2009. He failed to get the Legislature to agree to require background checks on sales at gun shows, and to get approval for universal pre-kindergarten. He also angered some environmental groups when he voiced support for plans for a coal-burning electric power plant in Wise County in southwest Virginia.
Kaine had some political successes. Democrats won a 21-19 majority in the state Senate in the November 2007 elections. In February 2007, Kaine endorsed Democrat Barack Obama of Illinois for president, the first governor to do so outside of Obama’s home state. He campaigned heavily for Obama in Virginia and helped him win one of his biggest primary victories there. He was regarded as a possibility for the vice presidential nomination. After the election, Obama named Kaine as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In the first two months of 2009, he was preoccupied with Virginia’s legislative session and the DNC raised less money than its Republican counterpart.
Virginia is the last state which bars its governors from running for re-election, so Kaine did not run again in 2009.