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Kaine to Launch Gubernatorial Run Today

Democrat Focuses on Property Tax Relief, Transportation, Education

By Michael D. Shear and Chris L. Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 16, 2005; Page B01

RICHMOND -- Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will formally announce his candidacy for governor Wednesday with a call for homeowner tax relief and a promise to improve the state's transportation system, promote excellence in education and maintain discipline in the state budget.

Kaine -- a lawyer and the son of an ironworker -- said in an interview that he wants to slow the dramatic increase in real estate taxes that can wreak havoc on the budgets of middle-class families.

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine prepares to embark on a barnstorming tour. He said he wants to slow the rise in real estate taxes. (Robert A. Reeder -- The Washington Post)

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"We've got five very practical and concrete things we can do that we think are going to cut homeowners' taxes," he said, although he declined to provide details before he begins a tour of the state Wednesday. "You do it by adjustment to the relationship between state and local government. And you do it by dealing with the property tax head on."

Kaine (D) is scheduled to begin the barnstorming tour at Big Stone Gap in southwest Virginia, where he will appear with his father-in-law and political mentor, former Republican governor A. Linwood Holton. He will travel by plane to Roanoke, Herndon, Norfolk and Richmond. Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) is scheduled to join him in Northern Virginia.

Kaine's likely Republican opponent, former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore, is to launch his campaign in a similar fly-around that begins Monday.

The two emerged as their parties' front-runners after their election to statewide office in 2001, along with Warner, who is barred by the state constitution from seeking consecutive terms.

In the interview, Kaine called himself "a very unlikely person to be in politics" and said he grew up in Kansas paying little attention to public officials or their policies.

"We viewed politics like the entertainment industry or pro sports," he said of himself, his parents and his two brothers. "It was something you saw on TV."

Kaine, 47, said his early views were shaped by the turmoil of Vietnam, Watergate and the civil rights struggles. When he was 10, he recalled watching television with his elderly babysitter, a woman he called his "surrogate grandmother," when word came that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot.

"She said, 'Serves [him] right,' " Kaine recalled. "I got this chill. Wait a minute. I thought you were one of the good people. I thought you were perfect because you loved us and all of that."

Kaine said he thinks of that moment as the death of his childhood innocence.

"When you realize that adults aren't perfect and that a good person can nevertheless have a lot of bad thoughts . . . that's sort of the death of the simplicity of childhood," he said.

Kaine attended the University of Missouri and received a law degree at Harvard after taking a year off to work in Honduras as a missionary.

When he moved to Richmond, he joined a law firm. His biggest victory came in 1998, when he won a $100 million jury verdict against Nationwide Insurance, which was accused of discriminating against predominantly black neighborhoods. The case was later settled on appeal for $18 million.

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