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Tim Kaine, the Governor of Virginia, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on February 26, 1958, the son of an ironworker. He was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked in his father's ironworking shop. After graduating from the University of Missouri in 1979, he attended Harvard Law School Degree, taking his degree in 1983. He interrupted his studies at Harvard Law for a year, when he went to Honduras as a volunteer with a Roman Catholic mission to Honduras. Under the aegis of the Society of Jesus, Kaine served as the principal of a small Catholic school.
Relocating to the Commonwealth of Virginia after graduating with his law degree, Tim Kaine practiced law in Richmond. He specialized in litigating housing discrimination cases, setting many precedents in fair housing law. In addition to his law practice, Kaine was a member of the University of Richmond Law School faculty, where he taught courses in legal ethics.
In 1994, Tim Kaine was elected to the first of four terms on the Richmond City Council as a Democrat. In his seven years on the CIty Council, he served two terms as the city's mayor. (Richmond's mayor is now elected by the people, not the City Council.) Mayor Tim Kaine's focus was on improving the city's schools, fighting crime, and reducing taxes. Richmond was recognized for its progress in reducing crime by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Due to the improvement in Richmond's economy while Kaine was mayor, it made Forbes Magazine's annual list of the top 10 business-friendly cities.
Tim Kaine was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2001, serving for four years under Governor Mark Warner, a fellow Democrat who also has been the subject of speculation that he may be chosen by Barack Obama to be his running mate. Governors in Virginia are limited to one term, and in 2005, Kaine was elected as Warner's successor, beating Republican Jay K. Katzen by a margin of 50.1% to 48.0%. (Libertarian candidate Gary Reams received 1.6% of the vote.) Kaine's 926,000 votes were 100,000 less than he had received in the race for Lt. Governor in 2001, when he beat Republican Jerry Kilgore by a margin of 51.7% to 46.0%. Kaine was inaugurated on January 14, 2006 at the old Colonial Capitol building in Williamsburg, the first governor of the Commonwealth to be sworn in at the site since Thomas Jefferson.
Tim Kaine is married to Anne Holton, the daughter of former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, a Republican who was the chief executive of the Commonwealth from 1970 to 1974. Anne Holton was an attorney who practiced as a civil rights and legal aid lawyer and served as a juvenile court judge. As First Lady of the Commonwealth, she has focused on improving foster care for children.
All of the Kaines' three children attend Richmond Public Schools.
As governor, Tim Kaine is not generally considered an effective chief executive. This is because he has to deal with an obstreperous opposition party in control of the state legislature. He is not as popular as was Mark Warner.
From his personal to his political life, Tim Kaine has practiced bipartisanship, a cornerstone of Barack Obama's philosophy. Kaine's wife was the daughter of a Republican governor, and he has to deal with a state legislature controlled by the GOP. When the Virginia General Assembly did not pass a budget in March 2006 due to an impasse over transportation policy, Kaine forced the legislature into a special session that went on through June. The debate was over transportation issues and how to fund current and new projects. A transportation bill was finally enacted in 2007.
Tim Kaine personally is opposed to capital punishment for religious reasons. Five times, Kaine has vetoed the expansion of the Commonwealth's death penalty law. However, as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he carries out the law and has presided over eight executions. He commuted the death sentence of Percy Levar Walton to life in prison without parole.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has one of the highest median income levels in the country while also having one of the lowest unemployment rates. Virginia was ranked the most business-friendly state in American by Forbes in 2006 and '07 and as the best state government in America by Governing Magazine in 2008.
Policies as Governor
The major foci of Tim Kaine's governorship are economic opportunity, education, environmental protection, health care, and transportation. Kaine introduced legislation mandating meaningful evaluations of classroom teachers and helped finance the expansion of access to college for Virginians as a means to boost economic growth. He is an advocate of expanding pre-kindergarten classes and boosting teacher salaries.
While Tim Kaine has wrangled with the Republican-dominated legislature over transportation policy, he has managed to boost funding for rail and public transit. An improvement in the managerial oversight of the Virginia Department of Transportation has translated into the fact that almost 80% of transportation projects are completed on-time and within their budget parameters.
In the area of health care, Kaine is focused on improving preventive care via wellness programs and increasing citzens' access to health care providers. He has worked to improve the ability of small business to gain affordable health insurance for their employees. Kaine hopes to boost the digitization of the records of the Commonwealth's health care providers to improve medical care quality and cut costs. Kaine has worked with the legislature to expand health care coverage among children and expectant mothers.
On the environmental front, Tim Kaine and the legislature have boosted the funding of projects to clean up rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Utilizing tax incentives, the Commonwealth now is committed to preserving 400,000 acres of forests and open space by the end of the decade.
In economic policy, Tim Kaine and the legislature eliminated the estate tax and created the Commonwealth's first "sales tax holiday." Under the Kaine administration, over 140,000 low-income citizens have been exempted from income taxes. Homeowners also have been given more say in how their local property tax rates are set.
The National Stage
Tim Kaine's ties with Barack Obama go back several years. The charismatic junior Senator from Illinois stumped for Lt. Governor Kaine in his 2005 campaign for governor. Kaine, in turn, was an early endorser of Obama's bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, coming out for his friend a few days after Obama made the announcement of his candidacy in February 2007. Kaine's endorsement of Obama was the first made by a state-wide elected official outside of Obama's home state of Illinois.
Tim Kaine was chosen by the Democratic Party to give the official response to President George W. Bush's 2006 State of the Union address. Kaine criticized the President, saying that the Congressional Republican Party has not supported a bipartisanship approach to governance.
"There is a better way," he said.
Tim Kaine also condemned President Bush's tax cuts and spending increases as "reckless". The consensus of the Punditocracy was that his response was unimpressive.
Tim Kaine is out-of-step with Barack Obama and the majority of the Democratic Party in his position on abortion. Because of his Roman Catholic faith, Kaine is opposed to abortion in general and late-term abortion in particular. He is a "Just Say No" man, believing that abstinence from sexual behavior should be promoted. He is a member of Democrats For Life of America.
On the issue of gay marriage, though he personally is opposed to the practice, Tim Kaine officially is against amending the Virginia Constitution to define marriage as being only between one man and one woman. His opposition to constitutionally limiting marriage can be seen as historically appropriate, as Thomas Jefferson, the second Governor of Virginia wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1779, which seven years later, was enacted into law by the Virginia General Assembly.