News Column

Kaine Tops Allen for VA Senate Seat

Nov. 7, 2012
Tim Kaine

Soon, Tim Kaine will be off to Washington to join fellow Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the man he succeeded as governor in 2006.

In a victory speech, Kaine pledged he'll work to find solutions to the nation's economic problems.

"Working together," he said, "we'll make responsible choices to reduce our deficit while keeping the economy strong and not shredding our nation's safety net."

Outspent in the race, Kaine said that "our victory tonight proves that it's the number of people who stand behind you, not the number of zeroes behind the check."

Allen conceded the race in a speech to dejected supporters shortly before 11 p.m.

Reflecting on the outcome, Allen said he is "reminded of how closely divided we are here in Virginia politically."

Despite the loss, Allen said he's "glad that I got off the sidelines."

Kaine, 54, was governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010. Before that, he was mayor of Richmond and lieutenant governor.

An early supporter of President Barack Obama, he served a stint as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

In the Senate race, he campaigned as a centrist in the mold of Mark Warner and his Republican predecessor John Warner, pledging to work across party lines to break Washington's partisan gridlock.

He cast Allen as a rank partisan and fiscal spendthrift whose past votes in Congress to authorize spending for two wars and a Medicare prescription drug expansion imperiled the nation's economy.

Kaine argued those traits made Allen unlikely to compromise on key policy items such as the looming fiscal cliff of $1 trillion in scheduled automatic cuts to domestic and defense spending set to begin in January.

Allen cast himself as a fiscal hawk - he pledged to help get the nation's finances in order, focus on jobs, clear the way to offshore energy exploration, and avert defense cuts potentially devastating to Virginia.

He sought to sidestep sticky social issues whenever possible during the general election, preferring to stick to an economic message.

Allen and Republicans portrayed Kaine as too close to Obama and a one-man pep squad for his agenda, such as the economic stimulus package and the federal health care law.

The Kaine-Allen contest was one of the most expensive in the nation.

Kaine outraised Allen, $17.4 million to $12.5 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

However, outside groups more than canceled out Kaine's advantage, spending $31.6 million on Allen's behalf compared to $21.2 million spent by pro-Kaine groups.

Allen, 60, was seeking redemption in this race. It's been a hard road back for a man once considered a likely GOP presidential contender.

Allen was governor from 1994 to 1998 and served a term in the Senate from 2001 to 2007.

He was defeated for re-election by Democrat Jim Webb, who chose not to run again.

Based on 2,568 of 2,588 precincts reporting.

Source: (C) 2012 The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA

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