Raspy, exhausted, hopeful: Va.’s Senate candidates tell all

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Voters tired of campaign ads, who just want Election Day to be over, can take heart — the candidates have it worse.

If former Gov. Tim Kaine’s Senate campaign was a child, it would be more than a year and half old. With the end in sight, Kaine tells WTOP, the campaign has taken its toll.

“I definitely have that end-of-campaign voice that’s kind of starting to fade … with cold weather and having a cold and being tired, but it’s nice to see a finish line tomorrow night after 19 months of really hard work,” Kaine says.

Virginians are used to seeing Kaine, who’s spent his 15-year political career in the state. His opponent, former Virginia Sen. George Allen, has spent even more time representing the commonwealth, serving as its governor from 1994 to 1998.

“People realize this Senate seat will most likely determine whether there’s a change in the Senate. Clearly there’s a lot of excitement in the presidential race,” Allen said on WTOP Monday morning.

Virginia’s battleground status means voters have seen almost as much of their candidates for Senate as their candidates for president. While the spotlight of the national race can sometimes take away from the statewide match, Kaine says given the ballot, it has not been a problem.

“People know us very very well … Virginians have strong feelings, and feel like they know George Allen and Tim Kaine. And that’s gonna be the predominant factor as they make up their minds here,” Kaine says.

Among the issues facing Virginia, both candidates addressed tax cuts, defense spending and energy. But above all, compromise. Both say they’ve heard loud and clear from Virginia voters that they want action in Washington, not partisan stalemates.

“We’ve got to put people in that have a track record of bringing people together not pushing them apart. Bridge building not bridge burning. Because if our ideas are perfect, but Congress folks don’t want to work with each other, the ideas don’t matter. We’ve got to find people who know how to work together,” Kaine says.

Allen agrees that the inability of the Senate to pass a budget in three years is unacceptable and that he will not be an obdurate force in Congress.

“I know it can be done. I’m going to work with anyone, I don’t care where they are from, what party they are. My No. 1 goal is jobs. We have to get our country going back in the right direction,” Allen says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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