Hypothetical question: if Tim Kaine gets the VP nod and Dems win 2016, who do the VA Dems put up to replace Kaine? Who is on our bench?
In response, so far, people have mentioned the following possibilities: Former Rep. Tom Perriello, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Don Beyer, Rep. Bobby Scott, former Delegate (and current Virginia Secretary of Public Safety) Brian Moran. Since we’ve got the other two Democratic Congressmen, might as well throw in Rep. Gerry Connolly as well. Who else? How about 2009 LG candidate Jody Wagner? 2009 AG candidate Steve Shannon? Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton (married to Tim Kaine; daughter of former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton)? Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer and 2013 LG candidate Aneesh Chopra? Others?
By the way, according to the Code of Virginia:
When any vacancy occurs in the representation of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States Senate, the Governor shall issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term. The election shall be held on the next succeeding November general election date or, if the vacancy occurs within 120 days prior to that date, on the second succeeding November general election date. The Governor may make a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy until the qualified voters fill the same by election.
So, assuming Tim Kaine became Vice President in January 2017, Gov. McAuliffe would appoint a temporary U.S. Senator until the special election in November 2017 — the same election date for Virginia governor, LG, AG and House of Delegates. Who could hold this seat for the Democrats? What would be the pros and cons of each possible candidate? Let’s go through this quickly.
Rep. Bobby Scott (68 years old): First elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1977, then to the Virginia State Senate in 1982, then to Congress in 1992, Bobby Scott has a long and justifiably respected track record of service to the Commonwealth. In 2011, there were rumors that Scott might run for U.S. Senate, but he ultimately decided to defer to Tim Kaine. Would Scott be interested in the position if Gov. McAuliffe offered it to him? My guess is “yes.” But then, he’d have to run a grueling, tough race in 2017 to hold it, and the question is would he be into doing THAT (I mean, who in their right mind would be — LOL)? Would Gov. McAuliffe offer Scott the job? It certainly would be historic: the first African American to represent Virginia in the US Senate ever, and only the second African American from the former Confederacy since Reconstruction (the only one so far has been Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina). I think the main question would be whether or not Scott had the burning desire to run this race. If he ran hard, I certainly think he could win, although no doubt 2017 could be a tough political environment for Virginia Democrats, assuming the usual, massive Democratic dropoff in non-presidential years, particularly after we (likely) elect a Democrat to the White House this November.
Rep. Don Beyer (65 years old): A wealthy and well-known businessman, Beyer served as Virginia Lt. Governor for two terms, from 1990 to 1998. Beyer then ran for governor in 1997, losing to Jim “No Car Tax” Gilmore by a 56%-43% margin. Beyer then served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from 2009 to 2013, before running for Congress in the 8th CD and winning easily in 2014. One big reason for McAuliffe to pick Beyer to fill Tim Kaine’s Senate seat would be that Beyer has run statewide three times previously, so he knows how to do that. On the other hand, Beyer lost his last statewide race badly, so he’s certainly no “slam-dunk” to hold Kaine’s seat. If Beyer were picked, the special election for his House seat would be fascinating, with potential candidates ranging from a bunch of the Dems who ran in 2014 to Megan Beyer to Brian Moran. That would be fascinating in and of itself.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (66 years old): Former Chairman of the Board in Fairfax County, the largest jurisdiction in Virginia (with around 1.1 million people), Connolly ran for Congress in 2008, first beating former Rep. Leslie Byrne in the Democratic primary and then cruising to victory (by nearly 12 points) in November over Republican Keith Fimian. Connolly survived a political scare in the Tea Party “wave” election of 2010, barely defeating Fimian by under 1,000 votes. Connolly then cruised in 2012 and 2014, with new-and-improved (for a Democrat) district lines. Connolly has been rumored numerous times for statewide office, mainly governor. However, if the US Senate seat opened up, I’d imagine he’d be interested. The question is, could Connolly win statewide? Also note that this would set off a fascinating race for Connolly’s House seat, with a whole host of potential candidates…
Former Rep. Tom Perriello (41 years old): Perriello served one term in the U.S. House, from January 2009 to January 2011, but was sadly defeated in the Tea Party “wave” year. Perriello then worked as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Special Representative for the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (until April 2015), and now Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa. The question is, would Perriello be interested in plunging back into electoral politics? My bet is that he hasn’t lost the “bug,” since he loved serving in Congress, did a great job at it, and was considering a run for governor in 2013 before deciding not to primary Terry McAuliffe. Which raises a question: what’s Perriello’s relationship like with McAuliffe at this point, given that he seriously though about taking on McAuliffe in 2013? As for Perriello’s ability to run an energetic statewide race, anyone who’s ever watched him can have little doubt of that, the big question being whether Perriello ever sleeps. Could he win? I’m not sure, but I don’t think he’d have any less of a chance than the people I’ve already mentioned. Perriello also could help turn out young people and fire up the “base.” Would be interesting…
Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran (56 years old): A former prosecutor, Brian Moran was elected to the House of Delegates in 1995, rising to Caucus Chair. In 2009, Moran ran for governor, finishing last in a three-way primary with Creigh Deeds and Terry McAuliffe. In December 2010, Moran was elected DPVA Chair, and currently serves as Gov. McAuliffe’s Secretary of Public Safety. Moran also worked in high-level positions for the for-profit “education” industry’s top lobbying group, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. The questions with Moran would be whether 1) his relationship with McAuliffe has recovered enough from the nasty/vicious 2009 primary to the point where McAuliffe would consider appointing him to the U.S. Senate; 2) Moran wanted to run for U.S. Senate; 3) McAuliffe felt that Moran could hold the seat. Personally, I’m skeptical, given Moran’s third-place primary finish in 2009, but I suppose it’s possible. I strongly doubt Moran has lost the political “bug,” that’s for sure.
Jody Wagner (60 years old): Served as State Treasurer from January 2002 to January 2006, and as Secretary of Finance under Gov. Kaine from January 2006 to August 2008. Wagner ran for Congress in 2000, losing to Republican Ed Schrock. She also ran for Lt. Governor in 2009, winning the primary but losing the general election 57%-43% to Republican Bill Bolling. Wagner also passed up a chance to run for the 2nd CD seat this cycle, despite being recruited. So…the big questions with Wagner are: 1) would she be interested in running for U.S. Senate; 2) could she win statewide, given that she’s never won a general election?
Former Del. Stephen Shannon (45 years old): An attorney and currently a Circuit Court Judge, Shannon served in the Virginia House of Delegates (representing part of Fairfax County) from 2004 to 2009. Shannon ran for Attorney General of Virginia in 2009, losing 58%-42% to Republican Ken Cuccinelli. The questions with Shannon would be whether he was interested in getting back into the political arena, whether he could win statewide, and whether he could beat out the many names already mentioned for the gubernatorial nod.
Secretary of Education Anne Holton (58 years old): This would be a fascinating pick, given Holton’s political pedigree and qualifications. Holton is an attorney, having graduate cum Laude from Harvard Law School, where she met her husband Tim Kaine. From 1998 to 2005, Holton served as a Judge on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond. She then resigned from the bench to serve as First Lady of Virginia in the Gov. Kaine administration. Holton is very impressive, the only questions would be whether she was interested in the job and in running to hold it, plus whether the feeling was that she could hold the seat. Personally, I see no reason why not, as Holton is very impressive.
Former Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Aneesh Chopra (43 years old): One of the smartest people I’ve ever met, Chopra was appointed by President Obama as the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Prior to that, Chopra served as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology under Gov. Kaine. Chopra then ran for Lt. Governor in 2013, losing in the Democratic primary to Ralph Northam, 54%-46%. Familiar questions: would Chopra be interested in running and could he win statewide? I don’t know, but he’s very impressive.
So who else would you add to this list, and why? Feel free to weigh in! Thanks.
UPDATE: A source told me that Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones would be a possibility, even a strong one. So consider him added him to this list as well! (although another source has now told me that there is “no way” that will happen, that everyone is distancing themselves from Jones at this point, that he “may yet go to jail”)
UPDATE #2: I’ve also heard a few other names bandied about, including Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn…
UPDATE #3: Of course, McAuliffe could always run for the seat himself. Would he, though?