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Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

U.S. Senator (since January 2013); former Virginia governor

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Why He Matters

In a short 15 years, Kaine rose from civil-rights lawyer to city councilman to big-city mayor to governor of Virginia. After spending two years as head of the Democratic National Committee, Kaine announced he would resign that position to run for an open Senate seat in Virginia in 2012. He then won the Senate race, defeating another former governor, Republican George Allen.

A Democrat in a traditionally red state, Kaine won the Virginia governorship by convincing voters that he wasn't just another big-city liberal. Instead, the former Richmond mayor spoke openly about his religion, advocated tax cuts and professed an opposition to abortion.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Chair of the Democratic National Committee (2009 to 2011); Governor of Virginia (2006-2010) Lieutenant Governor of Virginia (2002 to 2006); Mayor of Richmond, Va. (1998 to 2002); Richmond City Council Member (1994 to 1998)
  • Birthday: Feb. 26, 1958
  • Hometown: Born in St. Paul, Minn.; raised in Overland Park, Kan.
  • Alma Mater: University of Missouri, B.A., 1979; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1983
  • Spouse: Anne Holton
  • Religion: Catholic
  • DC Office: 430 S. Capitol Street SE, 202-863-8000
 

Path to Power

Born in St Paul, Minn., Kaine grew up in Overland Park, Kan., and, hitting his third corner of the Midwest, went to college at the University of Missouri. After graduating in just three years, he went on to Harvard Law School. At the midpoint of law school, he took a break and moved to Honduras where he served as the principal of a Catholic school, teaching children basic carpentry and welding skills. When he returned to Harvard the future governor met his wife Anne Holton, daughter of former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton (R).

Upon graduation in 1983, the couple moved to Richmond, Va., where Kaine set up a private practice as a civil-rights attorney. In 1994, the political bug bit Kaine and he defeated an incumbent for a seat on the Richmond City Council. In 1998, he was elected Richmond mayor and three years later ran for lieutenant governor, his first attempt at statewide office.

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The Issues

Like Obama, Kaine has positioned himself as a politician above politics. He's an eloquent speaker who describes himself as more pragmatic than partisan.

His Catholicism informs his opposition to both the death penalty and abortion (he personally opposes it, but does not wish to see Roe v. Wade overturned). Kaine is also a strong civil rights advocate, especially as it pertains to housing, an issue he spent much of his time on as a lawyer. "He's not a person who seems to be driven by politics," said Robert D. Holsworth, the director of the Center for Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University. "That's what people like about him. He seems to be driven by something else, which is that he wants to do things for other people."

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The Network

One of Kaine's closest political allies is President Barack Obama. When Obama introduced Kaine as the new head of the DNC, the former Illinois senator said they share a "pragmatic, progressive philosophy" to govern across party lines."

During the campaign for the 2005 governorship, Kaine secured the valuable endorsement of powerful Democrat and former Gen. Wesley Clark who said of Kaine: "Tim, I just, I look at you, and I look at what you can do for this state, and for this country, what it represents to this party. You're the kind of Democrat that we need."

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