Now that Virginia Sen. Jim Webb won't run for reelection, the next question for Democrats is who will run to succeed him.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein floated a name earlier today: Tim Kaine, the former Virginia governor who now chairs the Democratic National Committee. Klein wrote:
...some members of the Obama administration had better be on the phone telling Tim Kaine to get in the race. Kaine is a former governor of Virginia, and by all accounts, popular in the state. If anyone can hold Virginia's second Senate seat for the Democrats, he can.
Kaine went directly from being governor of Virginia to chairing the DNC in early 2009, actually serving in both roles for about a year. He served as governor from 2006 to 2010. He's probably the biggest name Democrats could throw into the race. The other Virginia Senate seat is occupied by another former Democratic governor, Mark Warner.
His approval ratings as governor varied, depending on the polling firm, but he left office with an average 47.5 percent approval and 43.6 percent disapproval in early 2010, with national opinion beginning to trend away from Democrats during the 2010 election year.
Kaine appears not to have ruled out a run. When asked whether he had, the DNC directed The Atlantic toward his statement on Webb's decision to retire from the Senate. In it, he praises Webb but makes no mention of his own ambitions.
Here's what Kaine had to say about Democratic prospects in Virginia in 2012:
I had hoped that Senator Webb, having worked tirelessly to help elect him in 2006, would run for reelection and continue his service in the Senate. However, over the past decade, we've made major progress in turning Virginia from a solidly Republican state to a highly competitive one, including Senator Webb's victory in 2006, Senator Warner's victory in 2008 and President Obama's historic victory in 2008. With the investments that President Obama and the Democratic Party will make in Virginia in 2012, I am confident that our party will hold on to this Senate seat in 2012.
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