Kaine seen as ‘unifying figure’ for Democrats

WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders supporters and progressive voters aren’t happy with Hillary Clinton selecting Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., to be her running mate, but two Virginia Democrats say those supporters are wrong.

“Some of them sound like they have got some sort of litmus test that apparently they keep in a locked drawer that everybody has to meet to meet their orthodoxy test,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., told WTOP Saturday. “I don’t think the Democratic Party wants to go down that road. That’s the other party.”

Both he and fellow Northern Virginia Democrat Rep. Don Beyer say Kaine is the candidate the party and the nation needs.

“Someone like an Elizabeth Warren would appeal much more to the Bernie Sanders base,” Beyer said. “But unlike most of the rest of them, Tim is a unifying figure, a healing figure and after the eight years of divisiveness with George W. Bush and unfortunately the eight years of polarization with President Obama, we need a healer. We need somebody who can bring everyone together.”

Having Kaine on the ticket, and possibly in the White House, also would give Virginia a little more power back that it has lost recently.

“When Eric Cantor lost in his primary, we had the second-most powerful position in the U.S. House from Virginia — even though he was a Republican and I didn’t agree with him on everything — it was a loss for Virginia,” Beyer noted.

The prospect of having a powerful Democrat from Virginia will work just fine for the congressman.

“Vice President Kaine would make up for that,” said Beyer, explicitly testing out what he hopes will be his colleague’s new title.

Along with that power comes pride.

Virginia has a rich history of producing presidents, having been the birthplace of eight. While that puts the Old Dominion at the top of the list, it has been a long time since Virginia was last represented on a national ticket.

The last president to have been born in Virginia was Woodrow Wilson, who was elected in 1912. Although he was born in the Virginia, he was raised elsewhere and was even the Governor of New Jersey when he was elected president.

Before Wilson, the last president from the Old Dominion was John Tyler back in 1840. He also was the last vice president from Virginia, the second of two. The other was founding father Thomas Jefferson.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had the honor of being on a national ticket,” Connolly said. “There’s a lot of local pride about this and I think Tim is universally liked and respected.”

Those are superlatives the local politicians hope will trickle back down to the commonwealth.

“It’ll be really great having a Virginia vice president helping us,” Beyer said.

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