Betting Against Kaine: A Bad Bet


    By Paul Goldman

    More than most politicians, former Senator George Allen understands the luck dimension to politics. He had a sure win for re-election in 2006: the polls showing him almost unbeatable; the Democrats in Washington, if you go back and read the clips, ready to write off underdog Jim Webb. But then, as they say, “stuff happens,” and Allen lost the Senate race to someone who has now apparently gone from “born fighting””to “bored fighting” in record time based on Virginia history.

    Go figure.

    But unlikely events leading to open doors have been part of Tim Kaine’s history.

    When it comes to the luck dimension, Tim has a political guardian angel second to none, something that George Allen has not factored into the 2012 equation. For sure, the former Governor and current DNC Chairman might not decide to run. But, then again, the sun might not come out tomorrow either, the next Pope might not be Catholic, and the next Senator from Virginia might not be…I gotta leave some mystery right?

    Anyway, back to the Timster. George Allen may dismiss what follows as voodoo. He might be right. But does the label matter if it is true? What follows are the steps that have led Tim Kaine to the point where he can compete for an open Senate seat — vacant because for the first time in Virginia, a first time Senator who wasn’t a sure loser decided not to seek a second term.


    1. When Tim first ran for city council in Richmond, he was a big underdog. He lost his home precinct, which is usually the kiss of death in a local election. Several opponents complained that he won because several busloads of usual non-voters were mysteriously taken to the polls in a low-turnout election.  

    2. Tim got to be Mayor because the sure winner decided not to run.

    3. In 2001, Tim had no chance to be nominated as Lieutenant Governor. But the heavy favorite, Senator Emily Couric, got cancer and couldn’t run.

    4. Tim started the race against Republican Jerry Kilgore as an underdog. He was behind most of the election. He won in a year the rest of the rest of the statewide ticket lost.

    5. Kaine was the first Governor to support fellow Harvard graduate Barack Obama for President when the Illinois Senator was way behind in the polls, and Hillary Clinton a seeming lock for the nomination.

    6. Now, in an unprecedented development, a first-term Senator who could win has decided not to seek re-election.

    7. Lucky number seven. In the closest general election for Senator in Virginia, Tim Kaine…

    Like I said, George Allen can dismiss the above for whatever reason. Moreover, any one item on the list can be explained by the normative rules of such things political. But all of them?

    Look, a politician makes his own luck. And even with the political gods smiling, it still takes talent, effort and yes, campaign luck oftentimes to win an election. In fact, luck is often the key to even getting into the position to have the opportunity in the first place.

    Over the years, Tim Kaine’s had that luck, and then the ability to turn it into electoral success.

    It might look like voodoo — someone sticking a pin into a doll of Tim’s opponent(s). But if George Allen wakes up some morning in the not-too-distant future, and swears he felt a pin prick in his arm, he can’t say he wasn’t warned.  

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