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Does Kaine weather Massachusetts loss as DNC chairman?

Rosalind Helderman

So how will yesterday's Democratic debacle in Massachusetts affect former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the national party?

Martha Coakley's loss in the blue state is not exactly Kaine's first big loss as party chairman. In November, the party lost his own governorship to Republican Bob McDonnell, in a campaign with some remarkable similarities to the one in Massachusetts.

In Virginia, too, Republicans ran against Washington, arguing that their campaign was in part a referendum on President Obama and Democratic health-care reform efforts. In Virginia, too, Democrats -- included Kaine -- suggested their shockingly large 17 point loss was instead a reflection on the weaknesses of candidate R. Creigh Deeds and his campaign. In Virginia too, an unseemly circular firing squad of blame erupted even before polls closed -- in fact, even before polls opened -- over who to blame for the loss. Top White House aides essentially wrote off the state and began blaming Deeds for his own loss days before the election.

Nationally, the White House and others are now saying the Democratic National Committee and others did all they could to save Coakley. But it's worth remembering all that occupied Kaine at home during the key weeks of December when Sen-elect Scott Brown gained on Coakley.

On Dec. 18 Kaine unveiled his final state budget, a weighty effort to cut billions that required around-the-clock work on the critical document through the beginning of December.

He also was consumed with the pomp that surrounds the end of a four-year term in office, getting feted by various groups and supporters, spending a final holiday season in the executive mansion and saying goodbye to staff. According to an accounting of Kaine's travels distributed at the end of each month by his governor's office, he made no trips to Massachusetts during December.

And as national Democrats weigh Kaine's future with the party, that final budget that Kaine unveiled in December may hurt him. As one of his final acts in office, Kaine proposed that Virginia raise its income tax rate by 1 percent, a tax increase of $1 billion. As Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth noted on his blog this morning, eventually, some Republican at the national level is going to notice this about the DNC chairman and use it to good effect.

"In today's environment, it won't take long for connections to be made (or invented if they have to be). The word association game is simple. Tax Increases. Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Democratic candidates in 2010," Holsworth wrote on Virginia Tomorrow.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 20, 2010; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2010 , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Next: McDonnell reverses Kaine's decision on Soering murder case

Comments

Bring back Dean!!!

Posted by: bugjah | January 20, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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