In my heart I’d have loved to have seen Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders as Hillary Clinton’s choice for a running mate. Despite press hype and the hopes of millions of progressives neither ever had much of a chance of happening. Among a plethora of other things I will not discuss today neither is the number two type. My personal third choice was Sherrod Brown. That was the best chance of getting a more progressive running mate for Hillary but it was killed by the facts that Republican John Kasich is the popular Governor of Ohio and it would put Brown’s Senate seat at risk.
There were several other good names in the mix and in the end I felt Clinton chose one of the two that made the most sense; Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. As Republicans learned in 2008 and to a lesser degree in 2012; the first thing you want in a vice presidential pick is someone who does no harm to the ticket. Sarah Palin sunk John McCain and I still contend that Paul Ryan hurt Mitt Romney more than almost anyone realizes. I can’t see how Kaine hurts the 2016 Democratic ticket. The only hint of a scandal he brings is that he accepted, (and reported in a timely manner), gifts that he received while Lt. Governor and Governor of Virginia. The gifts were legal under Virginia ethics laws and, as I stated, were promptly reported.
Kaine comes from Virginia which means if he wins in November Governor Terry McAuliffe will name his successor until the people fill the seat in 2018. In addition to being a Democrat McAuliffe is a Clinton guy. Effectively Bill Clinton will be picking Kaine’s immediate successor who is guaranteed to be a Democrat.
Now let’s talk about what Kaine brings to the ticket. He has won statewide election in Virginia as Lt. Governor, Governor and Senator. Virginia is a swing state with 13 electoral votes. If the Democrats can hold their base of states that have voted Democratic in the last six Presidential elections they are just 28 votes short of the magic 270. Assuming Kaine takes Virginia off the table that number is now down to 15. At this point it is already all about electoral votes and 13 is a huge deal.
Kaine was also the mayor of Richmond. He is only one of 20 living Americans who have been a Mayor, Governor and Senator. That is a lot of executive and legislative experience. While I think it is almost exclusively rhetoric no matter who says it, a great case can be made for him being ready to be President on Day One if necessary.
I often take more of a technical approach to elections. A good example thus far in this piece is my attention to electoral votes. Kaine speaks Spanish. Democrats will do well with Hispanics, but having someone on the ticket who can speak to them in Spanish doesn’t hurt. In my opinion this will not be as big a factor in Florida as many will assume. The Hispanic population there is largely Cuban-American which votes a little different than other Hispanic groups. Older Cuban-Americans will still skew Republican while the younger people will vote disproportionately Democratic. Getting out the vote and the “right voters” will be a major key to winning the Sunshine State. That said, Kaine’s fluency in Spanish is still a plus.
Kaine also served as Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair. In that capacity he made a lot of friends and contacts throughout the country. Any successful national campaign needs a strong ground game. That only occurs when you have a plethora of friends working and/or recruiting worker bees for you. Nobody in Democratic politics has a more impressive rolodex than the Clintons, but Kaine’s is far from shabby.
All and all the choice of Tim Kaine is both a safe one and one that should help the Party achieve victory.
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