Tim Kaine for Senate?
James Webb will not run for reelection in 2010. That means, I'd think, that some members of the Obama administration had better be on the phone telling Tim Kaine to get in the race. Kaine is a former governor of Virginia, and by all accounts, popular in the state. If anyone can hold Virginia's second Senate seat for the Democrats, he can.
But the White House hasn't always taken the recruitment of challengers that seriously. In 2008, they brought Iowa's Tom Vilsack, Arizona's Janet Napolitano, Kansas's Kathleen Sebelius, and Colorado's Ken Salazar into the administration. The payoff? They almost lost Salazar's Senate seat and Democrats had to find weaker candidates in Iowa, Arizona, and Kansas. It stands, to me, as the administration's single most baffling set of political decisions. There were plenty of other people capable of running the various cabinet agencies. There were no other people capable of replacing the threat Vilsack would have posed to Chuck Grassley or that Napolitano would've posed to John McCain, and thus no one who could've done as much to convince them that cooperating a bit on initiatives like health-care reform would be in their interest. Similarly, Sebelius was the only Democrat in Kansas who even had a chance of winning the state's open Senate seat. Why pull her to Washington in a different capacity?
Even now, Sebelius and Napolitano and Vilsack and Salazar have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to guide the administration's agenda through the Senate. The irony is they would've been much more effective in that capacity from the outside. Similarly, Kaine is reported to be very close with the president. Obama even elevated him to chairman of the Democratic National Committee. But it's pretty clear now where Kaine could do the most to help the White House, and it's not in another appointed position.
AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari.
| February 9, 2011; 2:32 PM ET
Categories: 2012 Presidential
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