Arrogance, thy name is Timothy Kaine (Washington Post):
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will become chairman of the Democratic National Committee later this month, serving as the top political messenger for Barack Obama‘s administration even while finishing his final year in the governor’s mansion, several sources said.
Kaine, 50, who emerged as a finalist for the job of Obama’s running mate last summer, will operate from Richmond in a part-time capacity until January 2010, when he will become the full-time DNC chairman. Kaine is constitutionally barred from running for reelection.
Credit must be given to Michael Shear (the Post reporter) for noting the obvious (which has been a problem for the Post when it comes to Virginia politics):
Taking the DNC job will make Kaine an irresistible targetin his home state, where critics have long accused him of putting partisan politics ahead of governing. State GOP leaders are sure to accuse the governor of doing what he said he would not: shift his attention from the state during a budget crisis that demands swift action.
Accuse, my foot; Kaine has most certainly chosen to “shift his attention from the state during a budget crisis that demands swift action.” Moreover, I would humbly submit – OK, not to humbly – that this will put more pressure on Kaine to resist necessary spending reductions and quite possibly expand upon his proposed tax increase. His fellow Democrats will likely be compelled to follow suit. Virginia’s budget crisis now has the added dimension of becoming the most politically charged state-level issue in America.
For Virginians, inflexible Democrats mean the budget will be harder to resolve, and the chances of a tax increase sneaking through the House of Delegates (only 7 defections required – assuming Johnny Joannou remains the lone Democrat who refused to back tax hikes) is much higher.
As for the House Republicans’ plans on transportation, they’re pretty much dead. There is no way the Democrats allow any transportation plan that doesn’t increase taxes to become law. There may be a Senator or two willing to cross party lines on this issue in the GOP’s favor (I stress, may), not nearly enough to override a certain Kaine veto.
For Election 2009, things aren’t so clear. Yes, the parallels between Kaine and Jim Gilmore (who became RNC Chairman in 2001) are obvious, but the situation is vastly different now. The likely battle in Richmond is sure to damage Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran, but Terry McAuliffe might be able to enhance his reputation – especially if he holds firm to his refusal to back any tax increases. Bob McDonnell, meanwhile, could be tied to the Republican refusal to support any tax increases – which will help him in November, but I’m not sure he knows that.
So, the worst case scenario – McDonnell forces Howell et al to roll on some tax increase (likely on the transportation front), enabling McAuliffe to be the lone anti-tax-increase candidate – is possible. More likely, though, Terry Mac will be the one who decides a tax increase is OK (Kaine’s tobacco tax is exactly the kind of thing that Clinton Democrats like McAuliffe – Clinton’s DNC Chair – would back).
In short, while the stakes are higher on the national front, the objectives are still the same: make sure Speaker Howell and his caucus hold the line against tax increases and continue the reputation rebuilding begun during the special session, and keep a wary eye on Bob McDonnell – to save him from himself.
The good news is this: if we can pull it off, the entire nation will notice.