Like many progressives I’ve had my fingers crossed for a vice presidential selection who reflects my liberal views – an Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown. A progressive populist who’s unafraid to take on Wall Street and fight for Main Street. If not them, I wanted someone exciting like my current senator, Cory Booker. Booker, the politician who rescued a woman from a burning building, shoveled snow for an elderly constituent, and rescued a dog from the frigid New Jersey winters. It doesn’t get much sexier than that. But, instead of a progressive stalwart or an unmasked super hero, Hillary chose my former Governor, Tim Kaine.
Before my move to New Jersey, I spent eight years living in Richmond, Virginia. During my time there, Kaine served as my Lt. Governor and governor. I cannot make him a sexy pick for you. I just don’t believe it’s possible. But what I can do, as a liberal, is assure you that he’s not as conservative or anti-choice as progressives fear he is.
In his days before public office, Kaine paid his civil rights dues by working seventeen years as a fair housing attorney working with clients discriminated against based on race and disability. In 1998, Kaine took on Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., claiming they had been redlining African-American neighborhoods. Kaine won the lawsuit to the tune of a $100 million verdict.
In 1998, Kaine became Richmond’s first white mayor in over a decade. Chosen by a majority-black City Council, Kaine reopened schools, reduced the homicide rate by 55% and despite criticism, spent $6,000 on buses for Richmonders who wanted to attend the anti-gun violence rally, Million Mom March in Washington DC.
As person of Catholic faith, Tim Kaine is staunchly opposed to the death penalty. While serving as the governor of Virginia, a state that comes in second only to Texas in executions, Kaine vetoed legislation that would have expanded a list of crimes that fell under punishable by death. He has also served as a pro-bono attorney to death row inmates.
While serving as governor of Virginia, Kaine showed he’s an ally to the LGBT community. He campaigned against the state’s constitutional amendment defining a marriage between a man and a woman and issued an executive order prohibiting LGBT discrimination in the work place. Currently, he’s in the senate working with other members to assure that school children are able to use the bathroom that aligns with the gender they identify as.
The League of Conservation Voters have given the senator a 91% lifetime approval rating. In Virginia he invested in Open Space to aid in the preservation of the Chesapeake Bay. He was an early opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and believes that environmental protection goes hand in hand with innovation. Kaine backs new technologies and embraces innovation in alternative energies to both create jobs and end fossil fuel dependence.
For those not from Virginia, I can assure you the Second Amendment is as popular there as Sunday brunch in Brooklyn. But, after the Virginia Tech shooting, Kaine responded by issuing an executive order closing the gun show loophole and made it harder for the mentally deranged from obtaining firearms. Kaine also supports an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and bans on high-capacity magazines. When it comes to the NRA, which is headquartered in his home state, the senator boasts an F rating.
Now let’s talk about women. Before we get to his stance on abortion, let’s start with some simple basics. Kaine:
1) Supports Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
2) Supports equal pay for equal work.
3) Supports increased access to health care.
4) Supports increased funding and services for victims of domestic violence.
5) Introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, mandating education on preventing sexual assault in secondary schools.
6) Supports increased federal funding for quality and affordable child care.
7) Is endorsed by The Feminist Majority and Planned Parenthood.
8) Believes in the radical idea that women should be trusted with their own reproductive decisions.
Yes, Tim Kaine, supports a woman’s right to choose. I know much has been made of his personal opposition to abortion, but he respects women and law enough to understand that it’s their choice, not that of our government. Kaine is an unusual politician in this regard – he believes that his personal morals do not trump national law, something we’ve been trying to express to religious conservatives for decades. In 2012, his gubernatorial successor, Bob McDonnell signed a controversial bill into law that required women seeking an abortion to receive a transvaginal ultrasound. Kaine repeatedly railed against it, calling it “bad for Virginia’s women.” And due to his own personal objections to abortion, Kaine has been an outspoken advocate in increased accessibility to contraceptives.
I admit it, I am biased towards Senator Kaine. I found him to be a hard worker, a good leader, and most importantly, a good man. He’s a solid democrat in a purple state. He’s a humble man of character and integrity that advanced a progressive agenda in a southern state. No, he’s no social media master and he’ll probably never level the soundbite heard around the world, but as someone who’s never lost an election, he is a winner and hails from Virginia. We need Virginia. We need Tim Kaine.