Kaine Says He Would Decline Cabinet Appointment

Associated Press
Thursday, December 4, 2008; 3:30 PM

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said today he won't leave office early to take a possible appointment as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of education.

In his monthly radio call-in show on Richmond's WRVA and the Virginia News Network, Kaine restated his intent to remain in Virginia through the end of his term in January 2010.

News reports today listed Kaine among potential appointees.

"I saw that in the news this morning and it was news to me," Kaine said. "I've never heard myself mentioned for education secretary."

Others in the mix include Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Kaine said he would have left early had Obama asked him to be his vice presidential running mate, and he was a serious contender for the post right up to the appointment of Joe Biden.

"I was considered for VP and met with Barack Obama over the summer and key people who were doing the vetting," he said. "I was a long shot on a long list and then over the course of two months I became a long shot on a very short list."

"If I got tapped for VP, I think the Virginia voters would understand me leaving under that circumstance, but it would not be right to do it for a Cabinet position," Kaine said.

Had Obama asked him to join the ticket in August instead of Biden, Kaine said, he would have felt obliged to help Obama, someone he has grown close to politically and personally since Obama traveled to Virginia several times to help Kaine win his 2005 race for governor. In February 2007, Kaine was the first statewide elected official outside Obama's home state of Illinois to endorse his presidential bid.

"I would have viewed it like a draft notice or something," Kaine said.

Virginia is the only state in which sitting governors can't seek re-election to a second term. Were the Democrat to leave early, Republican Lt. Gov. William T. Bolling would take over the office last held by a Republican in January 2002.

Kaine, a former Richmond mayor, still owns a house in the city and said he would like to return to it after his term, but said he would be amenable to some presidential appointment when he leaves office in January 2010.

A federal judiciary post or an ambassadorship are among the possibilities that could be open to Kaine, a former civil rights attorney in private practice. He has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Eugene Trani, who is retiring as president of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

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