The Pulse | ‘Interesting’ week for Kaine, DNC

The media and Republicans are howling about the gubernatorial-election trainwrecks in Virginia and New Jersey spelling early doom for the agenda of President Barack Obama not even a year into his term.

It’s Tim Kaine’s job as Democratic National Committee chairman to put a silver lining in the smoke clouds.

I asked Kaine after a governor’s visit to Harrisonburg today to mark the formal opening of the SRI International research and development facility about the early lessons for the DNC from last week’s stinging defeats.

Cue the silver lining.

“Interesting last week,” he said. “I mean, obviously we wanted to win the two governorships, and didn’t. We won two races in Congress, which means this year there have been five special elections into the House, and Democrats have won every one, in addition to picking up two Senate seats.

“We got a historic bill passed on health care, which I think is going to be a remarkable tail wind for Democratic candidates, because insured Americans, beginning as soon as the bill passes, are going to have protections that they haven’t had, and we’re going to have a path to affordable insurance coverage for Americans in a way that this nation has never had.

“So, interesting. Wanted to win the governor’s races, but we won the national races, which are the congressional ones, and we got a great health-care vote that I think will create momentum going forward,” Kaine said.

OK, let’s analyze. The Jon Corzine loss in New Jersey, in particular, has to sting. Creigh Deeds ran a woeful campaign against a strong GOP candidate in former attorney general Bob McDonnell. That one was a foregone conclusion from early October on. In Jersey, Corzine had slogged through the summer, but had seemed to be getting things in control down the stretch in his three-way race against eventual GOP winner Chris Christie and independent Chris Daggett.

The pickup in New York’s 23rd Congressional District by Democrat Bill Owens was huge given the time and attention paid by national Republican leaders to the race there that to them seemed more between the conservative and moderate wings of their party than a competitive two-party race. The win in California’s 10th by Democrat John Garamendi was a hold – the special election was to replace former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who resigned her seat to take a post in the Obama administration.

Health care – is health care. The Senate fight will be interesting; as will rounds two and three after the two houses come together on whatever compromise measure will go up for a final vote later this year. And what we have now is a 220-215 win on a reform package that looks a lot more Republican than Democratic.

Nothing to get too excited about there. Yet.


– Column and Video by Chris Graham


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