to a late crowd at the Canal Club as, "Virginia's next governor,"
by the Guv, himself, Mark Warner.
(Photo Credit: F. T. Rea)
- Possessed of an agile, incisive mind and slightly allergic to the allure of sound-bite politics, Mr. Kaine is the kind of politician who is impressive in small groups but can fail to inspire on the campaign trail. A former city councilman and mayor of Richmond, he is a policy wonk in the best sense of the term -- probing, analytical and at ease with the broad implications of competing choices as well as the details of how government works. He commands respect on both sides of the partisan divide in Richmond, an increasingly rare trait among elected officials.
- Mr. Kilgore has taken the path of least resistance in this campaign, adopting doctrinaire GOP positions, brandishing the word "liberal" as a weapon directed at Mr. Kaine and opportunistically trying to exploit hot-button issues that come his way -- illegal immigration and the death penalty, in particular. His record as the state's secretary of public safety in the 1990s and, more recently, as attorney general, is solid if unremarkable. But he has given Virginians no reason to believe a Kilgore governorship would be anything beyond pedestrian. In the event of an economic downturn, he could leave Virginia as bereft of public funding, and flirting with fiscal disaster, as did the state's last Republican governor, James S. Gilmore III.
- [Kaine] acknowledges his long-standing qualms about the death penalty, while pledging to carry out the law on capital punishment if elected. He embraces Gov. Mark L. Warner's sizable tax increase of 2004 (or "tax reform," as he prefers to call it). And he insists that as a devout Catholic who spent a formative year in his youth as a missionary in Central America, he will not concede the "values" issue to the Republicans
- Mr. Kilgore positions himself as an unyielding opponent of new taxes. He proved it last year by opposing Mr. Warner's tax package, which bailed out the state's fragile finances and buttressed public schools -- and was backed by more responsible members of his own party.
- In the end, the race may have been dispiriting, but the choice is easy. Mr. Kaine has the potential to be a remarkable governor -- a responsible, forward-thinking, unifying, principled politician with brains, guts and know-how.