WASHINGTON – The two former chief executives of the Old Dominion vying to fill Jim Webb’s U.S. Senate seat agree on what they say is a fundamental issue at the forefront for Virginians.
Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, both former governors of Virginia, told WTOP on Thursday that breaking partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill is among Virginians’ top priorities, and each of their tenures in the governor’s mansion prove they are the best man for the job.
Both men led the state at times of opposition party control of the Virginia legislature, which prepares them to take on crippling polarity in Washington, they say.
“The goal is to win, but it’s not to win for any party,” said Allen, who served as Virginia governor from 1994 to 1999, and as senator from 2001 until he lost reelection to Webb in 2007.
Partisan gridlock has prevented Congress from successfully passing a full budget in three years, he says, saying anything that passes the House “dries up like a glass of water in the desert when it gets to the Senate.”
“If nothing gets done next year, there’s going to be horrendous tax increases on everyone,” he says.
The key solution is to find someone across the aisle who shares a view on one particular issue, even if they disagree on ideology, to get “people to agree on the mission,” he says.
Kaine points to the bipartisan budget efforts from the “Gang of Six,” which includes Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., as an opportunity to rebuild “civility across the aisle.” The former governor from 2006 to 2010 says he would like to join that effort.
“I don’t care whether the gang is 14, six or one and a half. If there is a gang in the Senate working across the aisle to solve problems, I’m going to be a part of it,” Kaine says.
The Senate should produce a bipartisan budget plan, even if it isn’t passed or voted on, for the current slate of candidates to support or denounce, he says.
“I think it’s really important to have a bipartisan budget solution document down on the table,” he says, so constituents can see precisely where their potential representatives stand, including President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, his opponent this fall.
Both Virginians also agree it’s time for Americans to face siginficant cuts. Specifically, Allen suggests a hiring freeze across all federal departments, except those related to national defense and security, the elimination of czars and the application of Government Accountability Office findings to eliminate redundancies among multiple agencies.
WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.