The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Kaine takes the main stage

When viewers tune in next week to the State of the Union address, they will notice an unfamiliar face giving the Democratic Party’s response. This person is the new governor of Virginia, Timothy Kaine.

Kaine is coming off of a heavily contested gubernatorial contest against Republican Jerry Kilgore.

In the race, Kaine benefited greatly from the support he received from outgoing Gov. Mark Warner. Warner was elected in 2001 with support from many voters in traditionally Republican rural Virginia.

Many political observers across the country applauded the way he worked with legislators in a Republican-controlled state legislature. He was able to get measures through the legislature such as a controversial tax increase that would help to balance the state’s budget books.

Warner would go on to finish his term with record approval ratings up to 80 percent, according to some polls. This culminated with Warner being named one of America’s top five governors by Time magazine. Warner is also frequently mentioned as a contender for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president because of his success as Virginia governor.

The Virginia Constitution prevents governors from serving consecutive terms, so then-Lt. Gov. Kaine and Kilgore battled out for the governorship.

Kaine reminded the voters often of his association with Warner and this helped him propel to victory.

What was different about his victory as opposed to Warner’s 2001 win was that Kaine fared tremendously in many suburban Republican strongholds, such as in the Norfolk and Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. metro areas.

After President Bush outlines his proposals to Congress and the nation next week, Kaine will offer constructive criticism to some of the proposals mentioned, while at the same time outlining an alternative policy agenda for the country.

While many critics will be apt to say that having a political moderate as Kaine is an example of discord within the Democratic Party, one must remember every political party is prone to factions. In fact, every poll that includes a list of hypothetical candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination has a moderate Republican with a considerable lead over more conservative Republicans.

On a national level, the factional nature of Republicans was downplayed in many ways. For example, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was an expert in enforcing strict party discipline, starting during his days as House Majority Whip. This would include “primarying” dissenters in Congress by endorsing their challengers in the subsequent Republican primary. Another tactic he perfected was the “catch and release” strategy, where he would let centrist Republicans take turns voting on controversial bills.

Others will also say that Kaine’s victory was an anomaly in current American politics, claming he won on “local issues” and does not represent the prevailing national political mood. In fact, most people are affected by government on a local level basis, so in that context, almost all races are decided on local issues.

Democrats are not a party “out in the cold,” according to many accounts by experts. Democrats hold more total state legislature seats nationwide than Republicans and hold governorships in many places that are in the so-called “red state country.” These states include Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming and, of course, Virginia.

This is a testament to the continuing successes Democrats have in all parts of the country. Timothy Kaine, a person who represents the future of the party, will reflect that spirit in his address.

Shaun Wyche is a senior political science major. He may be contacted at [email protected].

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