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Kaine: Senate needs to make ‘hard decisions’

Second in a series

Tim Kaine had thought, like a lot of us did, that his political career was over.

In January 2010, Kaine finished up his term as governor of Virginia, and looked out a landscape in Virginia politics that featured two Democrats, Jim Webb and Mark Warner, representing the Commonwealth in the United States Senate.

So for Kaine, it was either wait out his gubernatorial successor’s single four-year term and run again for governor, which only one other predecessor, Mills Godwin, has been able to do successfully, or move into the next phase of his life.

“I had finished 16 and a half years of being in elected office with the thought that I wasn’t going to be running anymore, that it was a new chapter in life for my wife and me and our three children,” Kaine told a group of 60 local voters at a public event in Waynesboro on April 14.

And then it happened that Webb decided in 2011 that he wouldn’t seek re-election in the November 2012 elections. Webb himself encouraged Kaine to consider running for the seat, and Kaine came to the realization after doing some soul-searching that “there are a lot of important issues out there right now, and it was no time to be on the sidelines.”

“I love public service. And I’ve served in some challenging places,” said Kaine, whose first foray into public service came as a missionary in Central America in his college years, before entering elected office years later as a member of Richmond City Council and then mayor of Richmond and later winning statewide elections as lieutenant governor and then governor.

“I’ve had to do tough stuff, and frankly I think we need more people in Washington who are willing to do hard things,” Kaine said.

The U.S. Senate, Kaine said, has a “personality disorder,” with an inability to do hard things and even easy things, and a basic unwillingness on the part of members of either party to want to work together.

The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in several years, Kaine noted, and hasn’t been able to act even on non-controversial presidential appointments of late.

“We need people who can go into the Senate and, frankly, make decisions,” Kaine said.

“I have strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t mind making a hard decision. I had to make a lot of them as a mayor and as a governor, and I’ll do the same if I go into the Senate,” Kaine said.

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