Opinion

Tim Kaine is good for business

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Bernie Niemeier
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Virginia Business endorses Tim Kaine for re-election to the U.S. Senate.  We encourage everyone to vote in next month’s election, and we especially encourage those with an interest in Virginia’s economy and business community to vote for Kaine.

Let’s be clear. Since the first issue of Virginia Business was published in March 1986, this magazine has never endorsed a candidate.  Three hundred ninety-one issues later, we are doing it for the first time.  This is not intended to set any sort of precedent for endorsements in future political races.

So, why now?

Simply put: Kaine is good for business.

This isn’t about political parties.  In fact, for the moment, let’s just put aside that Kaine is a Democrat.

Kaine has a long record of success. He entered politics as a member of the Richmond City Council in 1994 and served as mayor of Richmond from 1998 until being elected lieutenant governor in 2001.  He served as governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010.  Kaine was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012.  In 2016, he was Hillary Clinton’s  running mate.  The Clinton-Kaine ticket won the national popular vote but lost the Electoral College.  This is the only election that Kaine has ever lost.

During Kaine’s tenure as governor, Virginia took first place each year from 2006 to 2009 in Forbes magazine’s ranking of “Best States for Business.”  During this period, Virginia also was rated as one of the nation’s best-managed states by Governing magazine and one of the best states to raise a child by Education Week.

As governor, Kaine supported spending for mass transit, highway construction and education.  He struck a centrist note in supporting a coal-fired power plant in Wise County that was opposed by environmentalists, while backing tighter restrictions on mountaintop removal mining.

As a senator, Kaine again has struck a centrist note, aligning himself with issues and bills supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and other business advocacy groups.  His voting record has been pro-business on immigration, health-care reform, free trade, military spending and investment in infrastructure projects.

Along with Sen. Mark Warner, Kaine has been a strong advocate for keeping federal spending in Virginia.  In a time of federal budget cuts, these hard-fought wins have been very significant contributors to preserving the vitality of the commonwealth’s economy.

Disregarding political parties, this endorsement seems like a no-brainer, right?

So, why now?

Answering this question can be done only by considering the opposing candidate and the risk to Virginia’s economy that a loss by Kaine would cause.

Virginia Republicans have been unable to win a statewide race since Bob McDonnell was elected governor in 2009.  Meanwhile, Democrats have won the past two elections for the U.S. Senate, the past two races for governor of Virginia, as well as the past two contests for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Republicans have tried a variety of candidates from across the political spectrum.  Conservative Ken Cuccinelli lost a close race for governor in 2013.  Moderate Ed Gillespie lost a close contest for the U.S. Senate in 2014 and then was defeated by a larger margin in the gubernatorial election last year.

This time Virginia Republicans settled on Corey Stewart, chair of the Prince William Board of Supervisors, to run against Kaine.

One of Stewart’s personal claims is that he’s “Trumpier than Trump!’  He has opposed the removal of Confederate memorials from public sites.  He has associated with white-nationalist Jason Kessler, the organizer of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. (Stewart now disavows Kessler’s views.)  He also campaigned for Roy Moore, an unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama who was accused by several women of sexual misconduct.

From a business perspective, these kinds of associations are not positives when Virginia is being evaluated by economic development prospects as a potential site for business expansion.

With a nod to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, Stewart has said he wants to “Take Virginia back.”  We’re not exactly sure what that means, but going backward is definitely not the way forward for Virginia.

Stewart’s candidacy, in fact, has given some Republicans heartburn.  The chair of the Virginia GOP resigned less than three weeks after Stewart’s nomination.  The National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it will not devote resources to his campaign.  GOP congressional candidates also have avoided campaigning with him.

Regardless of whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, we urge you to vote next month.  A vote for the right candidate is more important than a vote for either party.

Tim Kaine has a long record of successful leadership.  He has the right demeanor.  A vote for Kaine is good for business and good for Virginia.




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