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Juggling 2 Roles Is Kaine's Third Job

President Obama, right, has called Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine an ideal party chairman, but some have questioned Kaine's ability to balance two jobs and their potential conflicts.
President Obama, right, has called Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine an ideal party chairman, but some have questioned Kaine's ability to balance two jobs and their potential conflicts. (By Kevin Dietsch Via Bloomberg News)

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"It's totally different with a Democratic president. He will have no trouble doing this," said Dean, who said he recommended to Obama that he select Kaine as chairman. "The burden is not as great, so this is a perfect fit."

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Still, Kaine will likely become entangled in an ongoing debate among state Democratic chairs over strategy. As chairman, Dean dispatched full-time organizers in 50 states, a strategy many state Democratic chairs praised. But the program has been suspended so Obama can retool it.

Some Democratic leaders say the changes have resulted in considerable apprehension in the states, which Kaine will have to move quickly to quell. And despite having a Democrat in the White House, state leaders say it's still important for Kaine to leave the Washington region.

"Dean came to Oklahoma three times, and I could pick up that phone and get to Dean whenever I wanted," said Ivan Holmes, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

Last week, the governor stressed that he understood the importance of being a visible chairman.

"I will be true to the strategy that every state, every community, every person matters," he said.

Beyond the demanding schedule, Kaine's dual roles create a thicket of legal and political issues. When he travels on party business, Kaine will be accompanied by his Virginia security detail at state expense. It's unclear whether the party will be asked to reimburse the state for travel expenses. Special phone lines might have to be installed at the governor's mansion so Kaine is not conducting party business on a state-funded phone, Marcus said.

Lynda Tran, Kaine's communications director, said, "I know there are probably a series of rules and regulations that have to be taken into account, and I am sure he will be following them."

Lawyers say Kaine will also have to quickly figure out whether he can continue to raise money for his state political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward, without violating federal campaign finance rules.

In Virginia, politicians can raise unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and unions. But when he is raising money for the national party, Kaine cannot solicit corporate donors and can collect no more than $15,000 a year from a political action committee and $30,400 from an individual.

Because of the differing rules, federal election laws prohibit federal officeholders from operating state political committees. The ban does not extend to national party chairs, but legal experts said Kaine might want to voluntarily dismantle Moving Virginia Forward to avoid the appearance that the DNC chair is also raising so-called soft money.

"The key question is whether he could operate the PAC in a way that could be separate from his role as DNC chair," said Robert K. Kelner, an ethics specialist with the D.C. law firm Covington and Burling.


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