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That time Tim Kaine trolled Bob McDonnell


File: Former governor, now senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The call was coming from inside the house! At least that’s what it sounded like to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) who spent his first few days in office hunting around the governor’s mansion for phones that rang late at night.

The phones were the latest in a line of pranks that outgoing governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia play on their successors. Tim Kaine, the Democrat who preceded McDonnell, had hidden cellphones around the mansion in an effort to give the new guy a little scare.

“The previous governor pulled a rather dastardly ghost trick on me,” McDonnell said Thursday during his monthly segment on 1140 WRVA Radio in Richmond. “Gov. Kaine had an interesting trick with cell phones that were hidden in the walls and on top of elevators that would ring late at night. I think that’s public now. If not, it is now. It was a great little trick, and it had us spooked for a couple of days before we found the cell phones.”

When Kaine came to office in 2006, he got a good scare too: He found a cardboard cutout of his predecessor, Mark Warner, standing in the shower. The Post‘s Michael Shear wrote it up:

“Warner was in town for the formal unveiling of his state portrait, having taken a momentary break from the presidential-hopeful circuit. The oil painting shows a serious Warner, standing with his hands on his hips the way he often did during his four years in power.

Kaine got his revenge at a private reception at the mansion afterward.

There, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton , held their own unveiling. They flipped back a sheet to reveal the cutout of Warner.”

McDonnell is sure to continue the tradition for his successor, either Democrat Terry McAuliffe or Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Perhaps he could leave a copy of McAuliffe’s book for Cuccinelli to read, or a stack of Cuccinelli’s newsletters for McAuliffe to page through.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

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