See below for some audio clips from the interesting discussion that ended a few minutes ago with Sen. Tim Kaine on WAMU’s the Kojo Nnamdi Show. In the first clip, Kaine talks about his views on how Democrats can win elections, including the 2020 presidential election against Trump, by “nominat[ing] a practical progressive” but not a “mushy middle anything.” It’s interesting, as I was just having a conversation this morning with a VERY progressive friend of mine on a closely related topic. In the end, I mostly agree with Kaine that Democrats can “lead with issues” like addressing the climate crisis, gun violence and LGBT equality, that both Democrats and Independents strongly support, without being “mushy.” I also agree that the ideal candidate is “a progressive who’s got a practical sense of I can not only tell you I want to do this but I can show you that we can get it done.” Anyway, here’s what Sen. Kaine had to say on this subject, bolding added by me for emphasis.
You haven’t heard me say on this program we should nominate a moderate – those words have not come out of my mouth. I’ve said we should nominate a practical progressive. Here’s the way I look at politics. Some people look at it on a left/center/right spectrum. I don’t look at it that way. I look at it in the Venn diagram that Sister Perpetua taught me in second grade math class. So you all know what a Venn diagram is, put it up on the board: here’s who Democrats are, here’s who independents are, here’s who Republicans are. You want to have a candidate I believe – and I’ve tried to run my own campaigns this way – that pick issues to be at the front and center that both Democrats and independents feel absolutely passionate about. I don’t want mushy middle anything. Lead with issues that Democrats and independents feel passionate about. And there are many issues: we got to do something about climate change, LGBT equality, the need to address gun violence. These are not mushy and in the middle, they are things that Dems are passionate about and Independents are too. So I do believe that the way to win a presidential race or a senator or governor’s race is to energize Democrats and also energize Independents. You’ll get a few Republican votes if they’re not happy with Donald Trump but you don’t worry about sort of chasing after Republican votes. You energize Dems and energize Independents, and you don’t need a moderate to do it. But I do think you’re helped if you have a progressive who’s got a practical sense of I can not only tell you I want to do this but I can show you that we can get it done.”
Sen. Kaine also discussed the upcoming 2020 Virginia General Assembly session. According to Sen. Kaine:
“Democrats will be able to hold on to their support if they govern well…We have to put real accomplishments on the board for people, so that they will see, wow, Democrats know how to run our state and run it well. So I think that’s the challenge for the two house majorities, and they’re up for the challenge. They’re laying out some of their priorities already – meaningful background checks to reduce gun violence, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, the kinds of priorities they’re laying out are the kinds of priorities that will make the voters feel happy that they elected a Democratic majority…Each of those [Virginia Senate Democrats’ lead legislative priorities] overwhelmingly Democrats, Independents and many Republicans would say they support them…[Senate Democrats] understand that Virginians want progressive change, but they want things that are sort of, again, in this practical progressive space that I was talking about…Eileen [Filler-Corn] is a pro, Eileen is a pro, it will be exciting to have the first woman Speaker, and she’ll be the highest-ranking Jewish person to ever hold office in Virginia. The day she’s sworn in is going to be a powerful day. The House Clerk will be a woman for the first time in the [400-year] history of the House of Delegates….Whenever anybody tells me Democrats don’t pay attention to rural voters, I say if you look at our voting record, actually I think we’re more responsive to rural voters’ needs in many instances than their own elected Republican legislators are.”
Sen. Kaine also discussed the 2021 Virginia governor’s race, and the possible (likely?) candidacy of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. According to Sen. Kaine:
“Look, if Terry ran he would be very formidable. He did a really good job as governor. And I think had he been able to run for reelection he would have been reelected. He definitely [worked hard this last year to elect Democrats]. But there are other candidates out there though, Jen McClellan, Jennifer Carroll Foy have talked about running, and they also are very very strong state legislators who’ve got good track records…As Democrats win more races, more people get into these primaries because they believe I can not just win the nomination, I can be elected too…At the end of the day, people have to see good results from your governance.”
By the way, it’s interesting that Sen. Kaine didn’t mention either AG Mark Herring, who as far as I’m aware is the only Democrat so far to have actually announced for governor in 2021, or LG Justin Fairfax, who seems to be leaning towards running. Not sure what to make of those omissions, unless Sen. Kaine knows something the rest of us don’t (which is quite possible, LOL).