Washington Week

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16 Things to Know About... Tim Kaine

By Joan Greve
Washington Week Fellow

Presumptive Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton heads to her party’s convention next week, and she has chosen Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. Before the speeches and party events begin, we looked into the facts behind this potential vice president:

1. He has served as a senator for Virginia, a crucial swing state, since 2012. (A recent poll placed Clinton nine points ahead of Trump in Virginia, but the choice of Kaine could provide an added boost.)

2. Before moving on to the Senate, Kaine served as Virginia’s governor beginning in 2007.

3. He was one of Clinton’s earliest endorsers in the presidential race, voicing his support in May 2014, nearly a year before Clinton announced her official campaign.

4. While governor of Virginia, Kaine also served as the Democratic National Committee Chair, making him more favorable to the party’s establishment.

5. Serving as Virginia’s governor, Kaine pardoned Grace Sherwood, the only Virginia woman to have ever been found guilty of witchcraft. In 1706, Sherwood was found guilty of having used her "powers" to force a neighbor’s miscarriage.

6. He was educated at the University of Missouri and Harvard Law.

7. Kaine took a year off from Harvard Law to join a Jesuit missionary in Honduras, where he assisted at a technical school the missionaries had founded.

8. The senator speaks Spanish fluently thanks to his time spent in Honduras.

9. President Barack Obama considered Kaine as a running mate in 2008, before ultimately choosing Joe Biden. Recounting that vetting process recently, Kaine said in an interview, "I was vetted for [vice president] back in '08, and I love being mentioned but my gut was never saying 'I think it's going to be me.'"

10. He began his political career in Richmond, as a city council member, in 1994. Kaine was also later elected the city's mayor.

11. He already had close ties to the Richmond community because he had practiced law there 17 years. Kaine focused on civil rights law, specifically representing those who had been denied housing based on race or disability status.

12. As his Senate biography boasts, "He is one of 20 people in American history to have served as a Mayor, Governor and United States Senator."

13. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, is also active in Virginia politics, currently serving as Virginia’s Secretary of Education. Holton’s father, Linwood Holton, was another major player in Virginia politics; he served as the state’s Republican governor from from 1970 to 1974.

14. Some Democrats have voiced skepticism that the choice of Kaine as Clinton's running mate would do anything to excite liberal voters. Responding to the criticism during a recent interview, Kaine agreed, "I am boring. But boring is the fastest growing demographic in this country."

15. Kaine is considered more moderate on some issues in comparison to other running mates Clinton was considering. For example, as a Catholic, Kaine has voiced a personal opposition to abortion, but he has made clear in recent weeks that he is, as he told CNN, a "strong supporter of Roe v. Wade."

16. Kaine has worked on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees in the Senate, giving him more international experience than some of his competitors in the race to be Clinton’s running mate.

Photo via flickr / VA AFL-CIO