Former Virginia governor and University of Richmond professor Tim Kaine told his leadership studies class in March 2011 that he would run for a Senate seat in 2012. One year later, the campaign is in full swing and so are the internships for two Richmond and one Westhampton College student.
His platforms include stimulating the economy and economic growth, increasing fiscal responsibility (his website notes that Virginia was named the "Best Managed State in America," tied with Utah and Washington, by Governing Magazine) and renewing the search for a common ground among political parties. Kaine started his political career in 1994 by running for the Richmond City Council. In 2001, he was elected lieutenant governor of Virginia and in 2005 he became Virginia's 70th governor.
Junior John Hagy, sophomore Kate Lawrenz and senior Jack Wisnefske, are all interning for Kaine's campaign, mostly helping with research on records, histories, speeches and interviews of the senatorial candidates.
"The students bring so much to our team -- but I would say, above all, they provide incredible energy and creativity," said Hannah Schwartz, a staff member on the campaign. "The students working with us come in every day excited to help us win this race.
"The interns contribute to day-to-day campaign tasks, but they also help us find innovative ways to reach new voters -- especially young college voters. This is going to be a tight, tough race and we are going to need students at the University of Richmond, and students across the Commonwealth, to get involved in the campaign and help us get out the vote in November!"
Lawrenz said she had contacted a former classmate who was now a staff member to get involved. She said she had wanted to work on the campaign because of her interest in politics and for the opportunity to work in a battleground state.
"I was extremely impressed by Kaine's vision and plan for the state and the country," Lawrenz said. "That inspired me to intern on his campaign."
Wisnefske, who was placed in contact with a member of the campaign through a former colleague at the Department of Homeland Security, said he had been in his apartment last year when he read about Kaine's intention to run for U.S. Senate in the Washington Post.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gov. Kaine and his commitment to Virginians from all over the Commonwealth," Wisnefske said. "I believe that he governs with a thoughtful and balanced approach which has made Virginia the prosperous and welcoming state that is is."
Wisnefske said that the best part of working on the Kaine campaign was knowing that he is "an active member of one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races in the country." That kind of spirit is also present in the campaign office, Wisnefske said, noting that any time he is wearing Richmond Spiders gear, Kaine makes sure to throw a compliment his way.
"The fact that he continues to teach a university course while running in one of the tightest races in the country shows Governor Kaine's dedication to the University of Richmond and our student body overall," he said.
Kaine's campaign is also dedicated to getting signatures, Wisnefske said, citing the failure of even some past presidential candidates to achieve the required number of names to get their names on the ballot. Hagy, who applied to his internship via SpiderConnect, said that the people petitioning outside of the Heilman Dining Center and Boatwright Memorial Library were also doing so all over Richmond and at Virginia Commonwealth University.
"Kaine has given himself to the university as a living example of leadership that students can analyze," Hagy said.
Hagy said that meeting with community leaders all across Virginia and working in a unique environment more than made up for his biggest complaint about the campaign office: the lack of a vending machine.
Contact reporter Anika Kempe at email@example.com