Back from the Campaign Trail, Kaine Sets His Sights on Re-Election

Dec 20, 2016

It’s been said by some who have taken a campaign run for the White House that doing so is like going 200 miles per hour in a race car.  For former Vice Presidential candidate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, the race continues.

Fresh off the campaign trail, Kaine says he’s still hurdling down a track – only this time in the GOP controlled Senate.

“Yeah, it’s pretty intense. A lot of battles to fight – very important battles to fight.”

Kaine says his role hasn’t changed since losing the bid for the White House.

He does say he’s angling to get a new committee post so he can focus more on creating jobs in economically depressed parts of the commonwealth. “Staying very involved in my committees. Hoping maybe to get another domestic committee, but staying very involved in Armed Services and Foreign Relations, the Constitutional role of president and Congress.”

Kaine is up for reelection in two years. With him viewed as a more moderate Democrat, Republicans are hoping they can pick off his support to pass their agenda. Kaine says he’s willing to take a look at each proposal as the legislative session rolls along.

Senator Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, at a rally in Virginia before the presidential election last month.
Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

“I’ve been very willing to work together with Republicans on things I think are good for the country. But if it’s repealing the Affordable Care Act? No way. Backtracking on any equality issues? No way. If they try to privatize Medicare, screw up Medicaid, I will be a fierce opponent. But I suspect there will be areas where we can work together.”

Kaine’s popular, but so is senior Democratic Senator Mark Warner who only won reelection two years ago by tens of thousands of votes.

“Having had a near death experience in 2014, you don’t take anything for granted on off year elections. But Tim Kaine’s never lost an election where he was at the top of the ticket but I think he understands the challenge and he’s got a broader network than he had four months ago.”

As for being on the losing ticket nationally, many Republicans say they doubt it hurts Kaine’s brand back at home. Virginia Republican Morgan Griffith calls Kaine an honorable man.

“I don’t think the election necessarily tarnished him. A big part of Hillary’s problems were her policies at the national level and people’s misgivings about her ability to tell the truth.”

Still, Griffith says Kaine will be under the microscope from now until voters cast their ballots.

“There’s a chance an some of that will deal with national policies so it will be interesting to see how they vote in the coming days on some of the proposals that are very popular in Virginia, and those will be campaign issues.”

Read More: Off the Campaign Trail, Kaine Again Advocates for Congress to Declare War On Islamic State

Some Republicans are already mulling challenges to Kaine. Virginia Republican Dave Brat says he sees a window where he could beat Kaine: He says the National Federation of Independent Businesses gives him a better score than Kaine on small business issues.

“And small business creates 70% of jobs and so if you can’t win on that alone, in this period of outsider angst and the small guy feeling like they got ripped off in the last couple years, so there’s an opening. But Virginia is purple to light blue so it’s a challenge.”

On the train underneath the Capitol, Kaine says he’s not taking anything for granted, though he says Virginians came in strong for his ticket this November.

“That was one of the bright spots of the election, was winning Virginia so handedly that I’m assuming I’m going to have a very tough election. So I’ve already been very diligent about even in my first years not in cycle fundraising and building up my network so I’m taking that very seriously.”

Political analysts say after being on the Democratic presidential ticket Kaine’s now a national figure, which gives him a leg up in fundraising.