In an exclusive telephone interview with the News-Press following his electoral victory last week, U.S. Senator-elect Tim Kaine said he believes it was the positive tone of his campaign, especially in the closing weeks, that gave him the edge going into election day.
He said he received a lot of “very strong” feedback from citizens confirming this in the days leading up to the election, as a sharp contrast developed between his “positive, straight forward” approach and that of backers of his opponent, the GOP’s George Allen.
His approach enabled him to “stand out from the wallpaper” being used by his opponents that was defined by “looming storm clouds, deep, sinister voices and scary pictures.”
“My ads simply had me standing in front of a camera and focusing on these of working together to fix the problems in Washington,” Kaine said. While the two campaigns were in a dead heat when he started his TV ad campaign on Aug. 23, within three weeks polls began to show him puling ahead.
He defeated a bombardment of negative attack ads that came from pro-Republican “super PAC” organizations like Karl Rove’s “Crossroads” and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which targeted him for defeat with more money than anyone else except for President Obama, himself. (The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s pro-GOP offensive targeted a total of 15 U.S. Senate campaigns nationally and failed of succeed in all but two cases).
“It was a case of grass roots versus ‘super-PACs,’ Kaine told the News-Press, and also “a constructive approach versus a negative one.”
Realizing they would be outspent by big super-PAC money from all over the U.S., the Kaine campaign determined early on that striving for large numbers of individual donations and on-the-ground volunteers would be required to win.
He said that all goals were exceeded on that score, with over 54,000 individual contributions coming in, and a “rigorous voter persuasion effort” that materialized.
Now elected, he said, he’s “ready to make things happen” in the U.S. Senate. Although his political background has until now been limited to Virginia, serving as mayor of Richmond, as state lieutenant governor and governor, he got a good taste of Washington, D.C. serving two years as head of the Democratic National Committee with offices on Capital Hill.
As one of the first public officials to endorse Obama for president way back in 2007, he had intended to remain in his DNC position until Sen. Jim Webb announced he would not seek re-election, and Kaine made the decision in 2010 to try to win the seat and keep it in Democratic Party hands.
With no incumbent running, and a Republicans sweep in the statewide elections of 2010, Republicans and their “super PAC” backers felt that the race was prime for picking up a seat in the U.S. Senate. Allen had been one of their rising stars when he was torpedoed in a major upset by Webb in 2006, and enough time had passed to give him a credible shot at a big comeback.
Everything appeared to be in their favor, especially with the addition of all that “super PAC” money.
But Kaine’s campaign, in tandem with the President’s re-election effort, reversed the 2010 pro-GOP trend to return Virginia back in the “blue state” column in 2012.
Kaine said he’s now looking to forward issues pertaining to the importance of cultivating talent through education, help for the middle class and immigration reform to buoy the national economy. The issue is growing “human capital,” he said.
In the week since the Nov. 8 election, McLean resident and former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe made official what many knew well beforehand that he will seek the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia next year.
McAuliffe was a tireless campaigner on behalf of all Democrats running in Virginia since losing his party’s nomination for governor in 2009, and is the only named being mentioned to run for governor next year.
One of his contenders for the Democratic nomination in 2009, who also lost, Brian Moran has been serving as state chair of the Virginia Democratic Party since 2010, and he announced that with the successful results of last week’s election, he will leave his post at the next Democratic State Central Committee meeting on Dec. 8.
Upon Tuesday’s announcement, Kaine issued a statement from his Richmond office saying Moran’s “commitment to engagement in all corners of the Commonwealth has made the party stronger and expanded our capacity to achieve success in every region of Virginia. This year exemplified the best of grassroots campaigning and will serve as a template for future campaigns.”
Shortly after Moran’s resignation announcement, State Del. Charniele Herring of the 46th Assembly District (covering mostly Alexandria) announced that she will seek election to the party chair post.