Former Gov. Tim Kaine becomes Virginia’s newest U.S. Senator today as he takes the oath of office, replacing retiring one-termer Jim Webb. Kaine, a former mayor of Richmond, state legislator and Democratic National Committee chairman, joins fellow Democrat and former governor Mark Warner in the upper chamber.
Kaine defeated Republican George Allen in November, turning back Allen’s attempt to regain the seat that Webb took from him six years earlier. Allen, yet another former governor, has said the defeat marks the end of his political career.
The soft-spoken Kaine has pledged to work to raise the tone of debate in Congress and to try to bring warring factions closer together, a pledge he repeated today in a video statement to his supporters:
Kaine began his concilation efforts last month. As the clock ticked down towards the so-called “fiscal cliff,” he urged both parties to reach a reasonable compromise and put the nation’s interest ahead of politics.
“Neither side will get everything they want, but if Washington can put the countryâ€™s best interest first, they can pass a deal by year-end that will give the markets confidence, give our small businesses certainty, and provide a springboard for a long term solution,â€ Kaine said.
The Kaine-Allen duel was among the most closely-watched in the country and was generally regarded as too close to call. A strong Democratic surge from Fairfax County helped put Kaine and President Obama over the top and re-elect Democratic incumbent Congressmen from Northern Virginia.