Fix Pick: Kaine for (University) President?
Speculation regarding whether Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will be Barack Obama's vice presidential choice is reaching critical mass these days.
But, if Kaine isn't the pick, what does the political future hold for him? A front-page story from Saturday's Richmond Times Dispatch may provide the answer.
The piece details the decision of Virginia Commonwealth University president Eugene Trani to step down from the post next July and quotes several people affiliated either with VCU or Kaine who suggest he might be a candidate for the job.
Consider these key paragraphs from the piece:
* "VCU Rector Thomas G. Rosenthal acknowledged that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine might be interested in the job after completing his term six months after Trani steps down. 'If the governor wishes to apply, we would be honored,' Rosenthal said."
* "William H. Leighty, Kaine's former chief of staff, said the governor has expressed interest openly in becoming president of VCU. 'It's a pretty open secret,' said Leighty, who directs the Government Performance Initiative at VCU and teaches a class there in public administration."
* "[Friday] night, appearing with Senate candidate Mark R. Warner at Democratic fundraiser in Richmond, Kaine was asked whether he would succeed Trani as VCU's president. 'Who knows?' Kaine said. 'I've got a lot of challenging decisions ahead of me in the near-term,' he said, referring to the state's budget picture. Asked if he is interested in the position, Kaine said, 'That's too early to say.'"
"Too early to say" is far from a denial and the overall tone of the piece certainly makes it sound as though the VCU opening, which would come just six months
after before Kaine is term limited out of office in January 2009 2010, is definitely being considered by the governor.
Due to the unique -- and, frankly, ridiculous -- single term limit in Virginia, if Kaine is not Obama's pick he will be in the strange position of needing to relatively quickly make decisions about his political future.
A U.S. Senate seat is, for the moment, out of the question with Sen. Jim Webb (D) not up for re-election in 2012 and Warner (D) expected to claim the open seat of retiring Sen. John Warner (R) this fall.
But, neither Webb nor Warner are likely to be lifers in the world's greatest deliberative body -- and have said as much themselves publicly. Warner seems all but certain to run for president down the line and Webb is the ultimate political outsider who is likely to chafe at the decorum required by the Senate.
Neither man will make a move for a few years and so Kaine will need to find a place to bide his time until another opportunity presents itself. VCU, based in Richmond where Kaine began his political career, could well be that perch.
August 18, 2008; 4:00 PM ET
Categories: Fix Picks , Governors
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