Former Governor and University of Richmond law professor Tim Kaine is running for a seat in the Senate and plans on using what Virginians have taught him during his years in public service to get him there.
Kaine began his political career as city councilman in 1994 and then moved on to hold the offices of mayor and governor. But this is his first shot at a federal position and Kaine said he knows it's going to be a very different race.
"The issues the country faces are very different from the issues a state faces," he said. "I think America has big challenges and Virginia has answers."
Kaine said he thought the nation could benefit if it copied the Virginia model of civility. "Not everyone does politics at the level we do in Virginia," he said. That level is defined by a willingness to listen to each other and be respectful, two things Kaine said he hopes to bring to Washington, D.C.
He also wants to use Virginia's diversity and economic success as a blueprint for the entire nation. "Virginia has an increasingly diverse population who are bringing their talents from around the world," he said. "I think that's great because the more we're globally connected in our citizenry, the more we're going to be connected economically."
Specifically, Kaine is keying in on the increasing Latino population in Virginia by releasing a Spanish version of his campaign video. "I wanted to put materials on the website for people who were more comfortable in Spanish than in English," he said.
His fluency in Spanish is a result of his years spent in Honduras as a missionary in the 1980s, he said. Corinna Lain, a Richmond law professor and associate dean for faculty development, said those trips were what set him apart as someone who didn't just get into politics, but as someone who had been serving his whole life.
"He's really a politician of a whole different stripe," she said. "He's the guy you want to be in public service."
Though his experiences in Virginia will be a critical part of his campaign, Kaine said another part of his campaign is shedding light on who he is as a person. He begins his campaign video by saying that the best decision he ever made was moving to Richmond, Va. to marry his wife and raise their three children.
Kaine said this focus on family was not only to show voters more of who he was, but also to thank his family for all that they had sacrificed during his terms as a public official. "It would not be a race I would be in without my wife and kids," he said. "I want them to know very publicly how much I appreciate it."
As for his potential opponents, Kaine said he has no influence on who the Republicans pick as their candidate. "I've set up 'Kaine for Va.' very intentionally," he said. "It's not Kaine against anyone. I'll worry about an opponent when I eventually have one."
Contact reporter Liz Aquilino at firstname.lastname@example.org.