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Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says he will run for another term

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says he will run for another term

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Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced Friday that he plans to seek a third term, sending a wave of relief through the Democratic Party amid fears that he would retire and create a potential vacancy for Republicans.

Kane said it was not a decision he took lightly. He consulted for a while with family, friends and Democratic colleagues — many of whom had hoped Kaine would run for re-election given a number of tough races next year for Democrats, but whom Kaine said he appreciated needed time , to make a firm decision himself.

He said he was faced with the choice as he traveled across the state, energized by the people he encountered on every corner, he said, before ultimately deciding: He’s not done yet.

“Man, I got one more thing I want to do,” he said. “I have to be honest and look in the mirror and say, ‘Did I do everything I wanted to do?’ And the answer is, no, I haven’t.”

Asked what pressure he received from Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) to run, Kaine said Schumer and other Senate Democrats were “good at encouraging him” to do so, while acknowledging that it is his own to make a decision, giving him time and space.

“I think Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I walk slowly, but when I walk I don’t turn back.'” Once I’ve made up my mind, I’m in. I’m ready to run very, very hard,” Kane said. “I am ready to continue to serve very vigorously. Some people were quite patient with me while I made my decision and I really appreciate that.

Kaine will seek re-election in a decidedly different environment than in his last race, when a Democrat was in the executive mansion and his opponent Cory Stewart fended off moderate Virginians with hard-right positions and staunch support for Confederate statues. Kane won with 16 points. He won by 6 in 2012 against former Virginia Governor and Senator George Allen.

Although Kaine is still considered well-positioned to retain his seat, Republicans were energized by Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 victory over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) by about 2 percentage points and were motivated to continue the momentum.

Whether the governor himself could be a contender for the seat remains an open question; Virginia governors cannot seek consecutive terms. Youngkin’s ambitions have been under the microscope as the governor created two political action committees, met with mega-donors and toured the state in search of GOP gubernatorial candidates during the midterm elections. Youngkin has often brushed off suggestions that he is eyeing a White House run, but others have not ruled out a run for the Senate.

A September University of Mary Washington Poll tested Youngkin’s Senate bid in a hypothetical matchup against Kaine, finding support for them was close among Virginia’s voting-age adults.

Kaine avoided speculating about his potential opponent at his news conference Friday, held after an economic roundtable with Richmond’s young leaders. The roundtable group, he said, were the very people who inspired him to want to continue the work.

The Senate can sometimes be a frustrating place, Kaine said — but he still thinks progress has been made on some fronts, sometimes by the slimmest of margins, showing how a senator’s decision to stay or go can make a big difference. . “We saved the Affordable Care Act with one vote in 2017,” he said. “That will always be perhaps the moment in politics that I will remember the most: the health insurance of 30 million people was at stake. And it was by one vote, and you know, if I hadn’t run in 2012, it would have gone the other way.

As he weighed the decision, Kane credits his wife, former Virginia Secretary of Education Ann Holton, with giving him the advice “to reach a turning point in your mind and then live with it for a week or so and see if you wake up thinking or not.”

He said he followed that advice and chose two Bible verses to represent his choice: one could be read as a reason to retire and the other as a reason to run for office.

On the side of his retirement, he turned to Ecclesiastes: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” On the side of the fugitives, Galatians: “Do not grow weary in doing good. You will reap a great harvest if you don’t give up,” as Kane recites.

“I was driving around the state, I was kind of thinking, Which of these two verses is resonating with me right now?” Kane said.

He said he made his decision just over a week ago. “But I needed time to let it sit and make sure I wasn’t doubting myself.” He then managed a rare feat in politics by keeping his secret private. In addition to his family, Kane said he told three employees two days before and the rest of his staff at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Of the upcoming race, Kane said: “I’m not taking anything for granted. I think I will have a tough race.” He said the current partisan breakdown in the House and Senate was not a factor in his decision, and he remains optimistic that issues such as immigration reform, opioid addiction and workforce development can be resolved in a bipartisan way.

In just 10 years, Kaine has built a reputation as an honest broker with many Republicans — a political juggernaut who more often than not sounds optimistic about bipartisan meetings and who has publicly described a personal mission not to become cynical about dysfunction in Congress. He has been at the negotiating table for some of the most consequential legislation, sometimes working with bipartisan “gangs” on legislation initially disapproved by Senate leaders.

That reputation has put him at the forefront of more challenging assignments in the face of the Senate filibuster: He has worked with fellow Catholic Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to protect abortion rightsdespite his personal opposition to abortion, and he helped lead the charge on Democrats’ basic voting rights legislation, despite not serving on relevant committees, saying he hoped to “change the trajectory” of his Senate seat, held previously by segregationists.

A fluent Spanish speaker who spent time with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, Kaine also prioritized immigration reform, making history in 2013 as the first senator to deliver a speech entirely in Spanish on the Senate floor.

Tim Kaine wants to ‘change the trajectory’ of his ‘Byrd seat’, long held by segregationists

He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he relentlessly tries to rewrite the military resolutions used to launch the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq two decades ago.

Kaine, who served as Hillary Clinton’s running mate in her 2016 presidential campaign, has long been a political heavyweight in Virginia and beyond. First rose to prominence in the state as a civil rights attorney, then began his political career in Richmond, first as a city councilman, then mayor, rising to governor of Virginia. His steady but emotional leadership after the mass shooting at Virginia Tech received widespread acclaim, an experience he said informed his push to expand gun restrictions during his Senate tenure.

Coronavirus: Long COVID with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

Some of the speculation over whether Kane could retire was partly due to his experience with a long covid, which he spoke about publicly last year as well sponsored legislation aimed at funding research into the condition.

During the press conference, Kaine said that rather than hindering him, his experience with a long covid was actually part of the reason he chose to run again. “I have a long covid. That’s easy. I do not mind. But it’s noticeable enough that I knew there were people who really struggled with it,” he said. “We have to do better in terms of finding treatments and cures and therapies for the millions of Americans who are not going to be able to do this for a very long time.”

Paul Kane, Amy Gardner and Scott Clement contributed to this report. Vozzella reported from Richmond.


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