What Has Happened to Tim Kaine?

What is going on inside the Governor’s Office? Unremarked by the MSM, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has done a 180-degree flip flop on legislative and political strategy. We’re talking Hungry Jack pancakes here!

First, a quick walk down memory lane:

On Aug. 31, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine gave a blog-conference interview, stating that he hoped to make progress in three areas: (1) reform and privatization of the Virginia Department of Transportation; (2) making the connection between transportation and land use planning; and (3) bolstering stable, ongoing transportation funding. Although shy on details regarding land use reforms, he did offer one specific initiative he wanted to solve: Under what circumstances should VDOT accept subdivision roads into the state road system?

“Let’s focus on the areas where we agree,” Kaine said. While some people were pessimistic that the special session would yield anything meaningful for transportation, he added, “I’m not among them. We have an opportunity to make some great things happen.” (See my post, “Kaine on the Transportation Session.”)

As we all know, the transportation session was a bust — no thanks to Kaine, who did a total about-face, abandoning any interest in VDOT reform or land use, and elevating the need for a tax increase to his sole rhetorical priority. House Republicans even submitted legislation tackling the issue of subdivision roads, addressing an issue that Kaine had indicated a specific interest in. But during the session, he never voiced support for that idea (not that I saw, anyway).

Now, Kaine is on the warpath. Castigating Republicans for their obstructionism, he’s said that he doesn’t expect to accomplish anything on transportation in the 2007 session. Indeed, he wants to wield transportation as an issue against House Republicans in the late 2007 elections. He told a Daily Press editorial board that he would recruit candidates to run against “no-tax, no-fee, limited-toll Republican lawmakers,” as DP writer John Bull put it.

What happened between Aug. 31 and Sept. 31? Why did Kaine lurch from compromiser to warrior? I’ve heard one partial explanation. It’s a Republican source, so you can take it for what it’s worth. My source thinks that there are two camps within the Kaine administration — a pragmatic, let’s-get-things-done camp, and a political, let’s-get-tough-with-those-stinking-Republicans camp. Both have influence on the Governor. But right now, it looks like the tough guys are prevailing.

If anyone can shed any insight, pro or con, on this theory, I would be most interested in hearing it.

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9 responses to “What Has Happened to Tim Kaine?”

  1. Insider Avatar

    I think it’s two things. One, he came up from local government, and anti-General Assembly is pretty much in the blood there.

    Two, he’s seeing how fast a one-term governorship ends, and he basically has one more chance to be the “man who solved transportation.” And if it’s the same House next budget cycle, it’s the same result.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think Kaine had a responsibility to lead.

    He chose instead to duck.

    His office, his staff, knew that if nothing was done a goose egg would emerge and apparently they’re happy with that, content that the blame will be lodged on others in the House and Senate.

    which goes directly to the point of leadership….. which is AWOL.

    I don’t believe Warner would have operated this way. I think he would have worked the issue…to get .. something… even if was not a breakthrough and even, in the process, he ended up roughed up.. because ultimately he knew he would be judged on what he accomplished not what he said he would do.

    Kaine, in my view, has shown that he has the vision with his rhetoric but not the commitment to pursue difficult paths.

    He talked big with his “land-use” and VDOT-reform but when push came to shove, those things went out the window when he did not get his new money.

  3. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Insider – fascinating explanation.

    I’ve heard, but don’t necessarily subscribe to, that the land use ideas came from Kaine’s running mate, Leslie Byrne. She has a long and consistent history of supporting (reasonable or unreasonable – depending on one’s perspectives) restrictions on unfettered development. (Whether one agrees with Byrne or not, she deserves credit for consistency and honesty.)

    I was told by a couple of people that Kaine, while not necessarily agreeing to the concept of restricting development when the roads cannot handle more traffic from growth, jumped on it for his campaign. Needless to say this position was extremely attractive to many people in the urban/suburban areas of the state. I know many people who strongly disgree with Tim Kaine on many issues, but voted for him on this issue alone. (Personally, I think that it was the most sensible thing ever uttered by a statewide candidate. I am concerned, however, that Kaine’s position might be a sham)

    If this rumor is true and Governor Kaine is not truly wed to his signature campaign plank, it would not be unreasonable to expect him to abandon it. But this does not explain why he goes back and forth on the issue. In any event, the MSM should be addressing this issue instead of giving him a pass.

  4. Gold_h2o Avatar


    I’d say that you are dead on in your assessment of the one term governorship. For better or worse it’s the system we have.

    I’d only add that our current set-up (one term governor) leaves us in constant campaign mode which plays right into the hands of the special interests. On the other hand, the Senate & HOD like a one term Governor because it leaves them with a lot of power….Time is always on their side and that’s not the case with the Governor.

    Like the old saying goes, “The Governor proposes and the legislature disposes.”

  5. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Looks like 2007 will be even more interesting. Hope Gov. Kaine comes out with his hit list early. If he sticks to supporting Democrat challenges it will help with the ID (we can color code) of Republicans who are spend-and-tax RINOs vs Conservatives for the intramural races. What a badge of honor to be targeted by the Guv! This is going to help our Republican fundraising considerably.

    If he gets involved in the intramural Republican preliminaries that will be even more interesting.

    Gov. Kaine will find out how well the GOP gerrymandered House Districts after the 2000 census.

    Supposedly, I live in the 2nd most conservative district of the Commonwealth. I’d love for the Governor to run a Democrat challenger who is going to raise our taxes for an unelected, unaccountable Regional Government.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    It will be interesting to see what the R’s do (and the Gov, for that matter) in terms of primary support.

    We know the RINO’s will be challenged, but what about the HOD’s?

    “I’d love for the Governor to run a Democrat challenger who is going to raise our taxes for an unelected, unaccountable Regional Government.”

    ….you mean like Kilgore tried to do?

  7. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Anon 10:12: Except Jerry wasn’t a ‘D’. I pointed the platform problem to Kilgore’s campaign manager and got blown off. I don’t write big checks.

    But, when working the GOP booth at the Poquoson Seafood Festival and reliable Republican voters came up to fuss at me for the candidate’s stand – citing Regional Govt as one issue – and the tone of the campaign, then I knew we were in trouble.

    I’ll find out in 2 weeks how Allen is really doing from the roots of the grassroots.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    So…. the given explanation, that the State House is refusing to be reasonable, isn’t even worth considering, Jim? That’s just, not possible or reasonable?

    I mean you seem to basically be on the warpath yourself to avoid the most reasonable interpretation of his frustration after the session failed.

  9. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Anonymous 5:51, No, I don’t think the House has been any more unwilling to compromise than Gov. Kaine or the Senate. Indeed, the House has been more willing to think outside the box in looking for solutions. I refer you to my previous post, General Assembly Car Wreck: Who’s to Blame?

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