A few months back, when Hillary Clinton was steamrolling Bernie Sanders left, right and center, I wrote a blog post attempting to divine who Clinton’s likely VP would be. My thoughts then and now are roughly the same, Tim Kaine was best placed to run alongside Clinton. My reasons? Kaine was a popular senator and former governor from a purple-blue state with a democratic governor. He has a strong wealth of executive and legislative experience in a state that had voted republican in the nine previous presidential elections. He has strong ties to the Hispanic community from his years as a missionary in Honduras and to the African American community through his work as a civil rights lawyer.
Throughout the campaign, Clinton has consistently been cast as dishonest and deceptive, by her opponents, both within and outside her party. By contrast, Kaine, who has never lost an election, has a largely unblemished record as both a Governor and Senator.
Almost six months ago I said, “Senator Tim Kaine is the most qualified candidate to be Vice President. He is the former Governor and current Senator of a key swing state, he is a reliably progressive Democrat with strong language skills in a coveted minority group, and, in the post-Citizens United world, as a former chair of the Democratic National Committee, he is well placed to tap into established fundraising networks.”
All of this is critical as we progress further into the strangest political cycle of recent years. Whatever the result in November, the Republican Party will endure a hellish, prolonged, and very public postmortem. Many mainstream Republicans have been blindsided by their party’s acceptance and continued defense of Donald Trump. His continued attacks on minorities and women, in particular, may have the net result of pushing these groups toward the Democratic Party. Several commentators have noted how the Democratic National Convention sounded like the Republican National Convention used to sound like. It’s doubtful this that was mere coincidence. If there’s an advantage to be had, it will be taken.
The proof, as always, is in the tasting. How Kaine is deployed on the campaign trail over the next few months will speak to the roles that he may have in a potential Clinton administration. A number of recent polls have highlighted that some states once considered safely Republican are decidedly less so as the full effects of a Trump nomination rile the base. An ‘aw shucks’, harmonica playing former governor of a southern swing state could be Clinton’s most effective surrogate as she seeks to take advantage of an increasingly favorable electoral map.