Variations of the above myth include: “We need someone heavier to beat George Allen, a former senator and governor;” or “Tom’s resume can’t compete with Tim Kaine, the DNC chair, a former governor, and big-city mayor.” Good! It’s true, Tom has only run in two elections in his life, and he’s only won one of them. But that alone should not be a strike against him, and it could very well be a positive. Let’s compare him to his two most likely competitors: Tim Kaine (primary) and George Allen (general). Kaine has electoral and executive experience as the governor of Virginia and as the mayor of Richmond, and he now serves as the chair of the DNC. While he’s proven that he can run statewide, he hasn’t had to face the rigor of a campaign in a half decade. Additionally, Kaine’s political experience is lacking in the realm of foreign policy. Most destructive to Kaine’s ability to succeed in Virginia, however, is his stint as DNC chair. Regardless of his personal views, he has spent the past two and a half years being the number one cheerleader for Barack Obama’s agenda, for better or worse. In the general election, George Allen is going to hold him accountable for that lack of independence and is going to cast him as a rubberstamp for Obama’s agenda, and there will be little Kaine can do to respond to this charge. As a former governor and senator, George Allen has an even denser background in statewide politics. However, I think this fact will ultimately work against him. He’s old news, plain and simple. Even when you get past the macaca moment and the accusations of racism, he’s yesterday’s politics: a good ol’ boy conservative from the Bush era who is actually tacking harder to the right this time around to avoid Tea Party based challenges. Even if 2012 turns out to not be an easy year for Democrats, it’s going to be hard for Allen to convince moderate suburban voters that he’s worth returning to. By contrast, Tom is the future of politics. He’s young, principled, and incredibly energetic. Going up against Allen, he will stand out even more clearly as a man devoted to public service, differing from the self-serving, aristocratic, and anachronistic former senator who’s looking to redeem a bruised ego as much as anything else this time around. While Allen will spend the entire campaign spitting talking points about government takeovers, cap-and-tax, and whatever other tea party talking points he can get his hands on (while undoubtedly making the occasional gaffe) Tom will have an open field day demonstrating the depth of his policy knowledge, his reasoned principle for the votes he took, and his truly passionate desire to improve the lives of everyday Virginians. Furthermore, his record is nothing to be ashamed of. He’s worked in the federal legislative branch, and his service during the most productive House of Representatives in generations will prove a strong foundation during his campaign. Additionally, his unique vantage point from the House, where he frustratingly watched the Senate stall or emasculate every major piece of legislation, could be used as an additional argument for why he wants to continue Jim Webb’s legacy of challenging the Senate’s status quo. Finally, it’s worth remembering that Tom’s ‘service’ didn’t just start in 2008. According to a Cville profile in October of that year
He worked as an assistant to the international prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which indicted the brutal dictator of Liberia, Charles Taylor, for crimes against humanity. He has worked stints as a national security consultant in Kosova, Darfur and twice in Afghanistan for the International Center for Transitional Justice.
Plainly put, the guy's been around the world a few times and probably knows the intricacies of geopolitical hot-spots better than most on Capitol Hill. His understanding of international relations should be a strong credential against any primary or general election opponent. And with regards to campaigning, Tom stands-once again-above and beyond other politicians. He's rigorous, dedicated, and works nonstop to make sure every area of his district is continually interacting with him. I mean, one time the guy spent 24 hours campaigning nonstop. There's no doubt that Tom will take that same tenacity to a statewide campaign. The reality is that while Tom hasn’t held big-name positions like Kaine and Allen, his resume gives him a unique compendium of knowledge and experiences—both in public and nonprofit service—that could likely serve to his strengths in both a primary and general election.