What’s Tim Kaine’s Story?

My friend Steve Toler (alias Mosbygrey) posed a question I could not answer: Where’s Tim Kaine’s biography? He couldn’t find it anywhere online. The nearest thing that exists on the official Tim Kaine For Governor website is a seven-paragraph page snapshot, “Tim’s Story,” and an autobiographical piece about Kaine’s mission work in Honduras, entitled, “Finding My Mission in Life,” that didn’t come close to answering Steve’s questions.

Those two pages reveal only the sparsest of details: Kaine grew up in Kansas City, son of a small businessman who ran a metal shop. He went to the University of Missouri and then to Harvard Law School, including a year off to work with Catholic missionaries in Honduras. But how did he come to Richmond? When and where did he meet his wife Anne, the daughter of former Gov. Linwood Holton? And how long has he entertained political ambitions?

Steve, a die-hard Republican and unreconstructed Virginian, thinks he sniffs the odeur of old wool carpet — as in carpetbagger — about Kaine. Did Kaine meet Anne outside Virginia and then move here to set up a law practice, possibly with an eye to getting in politics? (In that scenario, it wouldn’t hurt to be married to the daughter of a former governor.) Or did he move to Virginia, where he met and married Anne Holton? (Seemingly less calculated.) In either case, how long after he moved to Richmond did he get involved in politics?

Personally, I don’t have anything against outsiders moving to Virginia, considering the fact that I’m a quasi-outsider, having spent most of my childhood growing up across the Potomac in the District of Columbia, with a few years and summers spent in Norfolk/Virginia Beach. And I’m not normally thrilled about bringing candidates’ family into a political discussion. But Jerry Kilgore’s mama and her Scott County courthouse connections appears to be a legitimate topic, so I suppose Tim Kaine’s relationship to a former Virginia governor should be, too.

Although I disagree with Kaine on a number of issues (most especially his dogged support for the unneeded 2004 tax hike), he strikes me as genuinely sincere and idealistic. But I may be wrong: I really don’t know that much about him. Could Steve’s hunch be right? Is there a streak of political opportunism in Kaine? What do we know about his motives for moving to Virginia?


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  1. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Very coy, Jim, very coy. This must be why Virginia voters rejected that other opportunist Yankee carpetbagger, Mark Warner, and my favorite Orange County cowpoke (and that’s Orange County, CA, pardner) George Allen. Tell Toler, get over it, Johnny Reb, you lost.

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Perhaps, when Tim Kaine was young and opportunistic, he was young and opportunistic.

    It is curious that Kaine’s bio is somewhat incomplete, but he’s hardly alone. While sometimes we can glean insight from early choices, I think we have a long enough record of Kaine’s jobs and public service to judge him.

    All things being equal, I’d rather have someone with Virginia roots in office. I think anonymous 7:32 fails to mention that Allen attended UVA (and I think went to HS in VA). Those are strong roots. Still, Virginia is a state that attracts talented people in all walks of life at all stages of their lives. We can’t have litmus tests on being a Virginian and we can’t be too harsh on those who do whatever it takes to enhance their “political viability.”

  3. Sorrel Avatar

    I don’t think we should have to confine ourselves to pols who are born here. That would knock out several of our candidates this time around. That a person makes a conscious choice to be here impresses me a lot more than that his mama happened to be here when she came due. But with Kaine, there is an interesting sub-plot as to whether his attachment to the Old Dominion was pure admiration, or was somewhat calculated given the connections that beckoned through his wife’s fine pedigree. But a campaign bio will never provide the answer. We’ll just have to draw our own conclusions. While we’re looking at bios, let’s see if anyone can figure out much about Bill Bolling’s life other than seeking office for the past ten years. He must be by far the most under-bio’d candidate in all the statewide races. I don’t think it’s because anything’s amiss. I just think it’s because there’s no there there. The question is whether that sort of void is preferable to the well-known history of Leslie Byrne. Given the choice, I’m strongly leaning toward the Bolling void.

  4. Can we really fault people for being “young and opportunistic”?

    Should I turn it down a notch and pass up opportunities (I’m young)? I don’t want to get criticized later in life.

    I’ll tell you what. I’m going to skip opportunities from now on, or else someone will label me “opportunistic”. I’m not sure what this means, but I’m going to try it.

  5. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    In a speech, I heard Kaine say that he met his wife in law school (Hahvahd), and moved to Virginia afterwards to marry her. That was in the early ’80’s I think. I’m not sure when Kaine ran for city council in Richmond, but I think he was a councilman/mayor for 8 years, so that would put it roughly in 1993, so 10-12 years after moving to VA.

    So how long do you have to live in VA in order to be qualified to run for governor? Is 20 years enough? I read somewhere that like less than half of the General Assembly is Virginia-born.

  6. The real question is this:

    how long did it take George Allen to learn to fake the Southern folksy talk and lose the surfer voice? 2 years? 10?

  7. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Paul, the story is he lost it the second day of his “first year” on the “grounds” in Charlottesville. First day, surfer dude. Second day, boots and dip. And as my Irish grandmother used to say, if all stories are true, that’s no lie.

  8. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    I read somewhere that like less than half of the General Assembly is Virginia-born.

    I’d heard that, too, so I did the math back in January. 53% are Virginians and 46% are from elsewhere. 57% of Democrats are from Virginia, while 49% of Republicans are. Both independents are natives.

  9. Walt Ball Avatar
    Walt Ball

    Since the subject came up, I thought, for curiousity’s sake I’d post this info on Jerry’s pioneer ancestor, Robert “Robin” Kilgore.
    **Robert Kilgore, husband of Winnie Clayton, was killed in what is now Wise Co., Virginia at The Pound at a place called Warrior’s Camp. Robert and Winnie lived along the Clinch River in what is now Scott Co., Virginia, then Russell County. His property directly bordered that of his brother Charles and was also located near that of Partrick Porter also of Orange Co., North Carolina. Several of the families who settled this section of Scott Co. were originally Orange Co. natives.

    On December 31, 1782, James Green, husband of Jane Porter, and Robert Kilgore, Sr. left their hunting camp at the mouth of Indian Creek and Pound River and crossed a ridge heading toward Kentucky. They left a man by the name of McKinney in the camp. Two gunshots were heard by McKinney, followed by the unearthly yells of Indians. Before McKinney could grab his gun, he saw Robert Kilgore running for his life toward the encampment, shouting, “Run McKinney, leave all, save yourself!” McKinney didn’t wait to be told a second time. As he reached the crest of the ridge, he looked back, to see James Green fall, closely pursued by Mingoes. Green sprang up, grabbed out his hunting knife, but before the Indians reached him he collapsed. As the sun was sinking, McKinney reached Fort Blackmore. By first light of the following day, the militia was on its way far up Stoney Creek, reaching the hunters encampment long before sunrise on January 1, 1783. No Indians could be found, but the camp had been pillaged. Next morning, they found the scalped remains of Robert Kilgore and a few hundred yards away, the body of James Green, with an Indian arrowhead in his right eye. The bodies were buried in a hollow chestnut tree on the north bank of the Pound River, a short distance above the mouth of Indian Creek. There is no information on what happened to Winnie Clayton Kilgore after the death of Robert. It is believed she remarried, probably in Russell Co., Virginia, unfortunately marriage register burned in a fire during the late 1800s. Family legend says she moved to Indiana with her oldest son Charles and died there, but there is no proof.

  10. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    Mr. Ball,

    I’m not clear on how this story about a Kilgore connects to the Kilgore. Was this a collateral branch? Or is Jerry Kilgore descended from Robert Kilgore through another of the latter’s sons–one who presumably, unlike the eldest son Charles, remained in Virginia rather than moving to Indiana.

    The story also doesn’t do much to address the question actually raised in the comment above: whether the Kilgores from whom Jerry Kilgore sprang were Unionists in the 1860s.

  11. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Sure was one helluva story, though.

  12. Walt Ball Avatar
    Walt Ball

    Jerry is a lineal decendant of this fellow, “Robin” Kilgore. He is not decended from the bunch who went off to Indiana. Regarding your question of Jerry’s relationship to possible “Lincoln Lovers” I will offer you the following thoughts. A citizen’s reason for remaining loyal to the Union in SW VA was much different that those from Pennsylvannia or New York. Those folks in Scott, Lee, Russell, Wise and Washington Counties who remained loyal to the Union were themselves decendants of the heroes of Kings Mountain, Camden, and Cowpens. Their ancestors had actually fought in the Revolution to make their land a free country and they weren’t about to see it torn apart for the benefit of tidewater planter. Richmond at that time, might has well have been on the moon. The people felt forsaken by Richmond (funny how some things never change) They joined with those in Western Carolina and Eastern Tennessee (then, Watauga) and saved us from Cornwallis. Southerners in the rest of what became the Confederacy never really sacrificed in the Revolution in the way of the “Overmountain Men” of Appalachia. Outsiders have always looked down their noses at this part of the state for one reason or another and I think the fact is evident though the last acceptable form of biggotry in this country: making fun of hillbillies.
    While tremendous Union sentiment existed in SWVA during the war, you should recall also, that when units such as The Thomas Legion were called out of N.C. to help protect the salt works in Smyth Co., they were met by all the LOCAL SEESESH when they arrived. As a matter of fact, most of the Unionists were driven from their homes in those areas, never to return again.
    The answer to your question however may lie in the following tidbit: Pvt. John Kilgore of Co. E, 48th Virginia Infantry (CSA) enlisted on July 21st, 1861. He was from Nickelsville, Scott Co., VA. The reason this is significant is that early in the war, before conscription, volunteers usually reflected the sentiments of the family. I think these sentiments are clearly shown in the following letter written to John’s father on the event of death, the following year, 1862.
    “Encampment Near Winchester Va Feby 16th 1862
    Charles Kilgore

    My Dear friend

    It is my (pa)inful duty to inform you of the death of your son John D. Kilgore, he died at Winchester this morning about 8 oclock one of the company who had been _____some time as cook brought the sad _____ of is death. I had been to see him _____ before yesterday & told him that I would be _____ to see him today but was (detail)ed as officer of the day & was preparing to assume the duties of (the) day when the news reached me. He had been _____ our tour to Bath & was taken with a pain in his _____ on that trip. I had to hall him on a wagon for (sev)eral days before I could get him off causing to (suf)fer a greatiel. – Well we went to Romney from (the)re & he was sent to this place & when we came _____ I looked him _____ hospital & found him (ver)y low ideed but the Doct. told me that he (tho)ught he could cure him but alas: how sadly _____ be mistaken for only two short days expired until ____ was no more poor fellow has seemed so glad _____ I was to see him & told me that he was (loo)king for you & that when you came he wanted me to give him a certificate for a sick furlough. I told him that I would give him a certificate for furlough or discharge either & that I would be to see him again to day but alas: I sitt _____ too long to ever see John again in this life _____ gave Wm P. Harris an order to to the ward master for his money ($10.00) & his clothing & sent him to town to see him decently buried. We tried to take him home but the higher officer said it was against the order of the War Department to send the _____ of deceased _____ home unless it was by the ____ of some of their family & there were none of _____ was here you know so we had to suffer ____ burial here _____ is a sad occurance inde(ed) _____ think that he had to die so far away from _____ kinfolks but remember that he lost his life _____ a glorious cause died in the service of _____ country & well did he perform his duty while _____ did live John was a clever boy and an obediant & kind member of my company – I set a good deal of _____ by John but he had to pay the debt tht we al(l) must pay sooner or later – Accept my sincere an(d) heartfelt sympathies in your bereavement _____ that your loss is John’s infinite gain for I am told that he said he was willing & prepared to go –

    Very Respctfully
    Your obt. Servt.
    S.P. McConnell”

    Safe to say the Kilgore’s wore the butternut, and NOT the blue?

  13. Walt Ball Avatar
    Walt Ball

    P.S. the following is a list of Kilgore’s from Scott Co. who fought for the Confederacy:

    KILGORE, C. W.
    KILGORE, G. H.
    KILGORE, H. M.
    KILGORE, HIRAM
    KILGORE, NATHAN D.
    KILGORE, R. D.
    KILGORE, THOMAS B.
    KILGORE, WILLIAM
    KILGORE, JOSEPH
    KILGORE, WILLIAM A.
    KILGORE, IRA H.
    KILGORE, GEORGE H.
    KILGORE, NELSON
    Need anymore convincing? (though it does make one wonder why Jerry is distancing himself from the SCV…

  14. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Actually, Kaine and Kilgore are both the offspring of “sleeper” agents planted throughout the United States during the run-up of the cold war. A manufactured history (see above) for each family was embedded in the public records by other agents prior to the sleeper cells being activated. Stalin himself is said to have visited south west VA to ensure secure placement. This association with Stalin would go far in explaining Kilgore’s continued use of “I Trust the People, always have, always will,” and his continued push to have “the people” decide every issue by referendum. Can we now expect a “People’s Republic of Virginia?”
    Kaine’s ancestors were put into place a bit later. Nikita Khrushchev is rumored to have been his personal mentor…
    Seeing as how both candidates have a questionable background intertwined with the USSR, we are left to listening to what they say and stand for in order to make a choice. Sad state of affairs indeed. :O(

  15. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Mr. Bell,

    Everyone knows Jerry and Terry are adopted. But thanks for the background on the Kilgore family.

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