The View from Virginia
By Tim Craig
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, one of Barack Obama's national co-chairmen, said yesterday that Obama's loss in New Hampshire means the contest for the nomination may be decided Feb. 12 in Virginia.
"I was starting to feel like, gee, maybe by Feb. 5 too much of it would have happened for it to be meaningful, but I think now you are going to see both parties are going to be feeling a need to compete and be here Feb. 12," said Kaine (D), who last February became the first governor outside of Illinois to endorse Obama. Kaine has become a key adviser to Obama, helping the campaign with strategy and support.
Virginia, whose primary is open because voters don't register by party, could be fertile ground for Obama in a match up against Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
Obama's good government message closely syncs with the themes Kaine and former governor Mark Warner (D) used to help the Democrats stage a political comeback this decade in the once reliably conservative Commonwealth.
When Warner abandoned his plans to run for president, Obama sought out Kaine's advice. Both are Harvard-educated civil rights attorneys. Obama's mother was from Kansas, where Kaine grew up.
"He and I talked a lot about running after Mark dropped out and he said, 'A lot of the things I am going to be talking about is the kinds of things you guys and Mark were talking about," Kaine recalled.
"This whole notion of we can be proud of who we are, but nevertheless we don't have all the wisdom and have to find common ground as we move forward. It's what people are looking for," Kaine said.
Several strategists who played a key role Kaine and Warner's victory also now advising Obama. Rick Siger, who handled advance for Kaine in 2005, headed up Obama's Advance work in Iowa. Jim Margolis, an adviser to Warner, is also an adviser to Obama.
Joel Benson of the Benson Strategy Group is Obama's pollster. Benson's partner, Pete Brodnitz, is also Kaine's pollster.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) said Republicans should be worried about a possible Obama candidacy in the general election.
"I think he is wrong on almost every major issue, but he is a new face, a fresh face with a very appealing message," said Bolling.
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