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Tim Kaine

(1958 - )

Tim Kaine

(1958 - )

Politician, lawyer, Virginia governor and senator, Timothy Michael Kaine was born on February 26, 1958, in St. Paul, Minnesota, but grew up in the area of Kansas City, Missouri. The eldest son of an ironworker and a home economics teacher, Kaine has noted he wasn't raised in an overtly political household, but became drawn to matters of public interest during the political and social upheaval of the 1960s.

Kaine attended Rockhurst High School, an all-boys Jesuit high school, where he joined spring mission drives to fund Jesuit activities in Honduras and became student government president. He went on to the University of Missouri, completing his bachelor's degree in economics in three years, before entering Harvard Law School. 

Kaine took a year off from law school to volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, where he ran a small vocational school for teenage boys while honing his Spanish. It was an eye-opening experience for the Midwesterner, who witnessed the devastating effects of poverty up close, and ignited his longstanding commitment to social justice. 

After earning his J.D. from Harvard in 1983, Tim Kaine moved to Richmond, Virginia, to put his law degree to use. He made a name for himself early in his career by taking on the appeal of a death row inmate named Richard Lee Whitley. Although Whitley had confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering a 63-year-old neighbor, Kaine was deeply opposed to the death penalty, and his investigation into Whitley's troubled background had spurred him to fight for the inmate. 

Over the course of 17 years as a practicing lawyer, Kaine specialized in representing people who had been denied housing opportunities because of their race or disability. Devoting much of his time to pro-bono work, he helped found the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness and was a board member of the Virginia chapter of Housing Opportunities Made Equal. Additionally, he taught legal ethics at the University of Richmond Law School for six years. 

Tim Kaine entered politics in 1994 when he was elected to the Richmond City Council. He served six years, including the last two as mayor when he helped to create and implement the law known as Project Exile to reduce gun-related violence. He was then elected Virginia's lieutenant governor in 2001, a role in which he served as president of the Virginia Senate.  

When Kaine ran for governor in 2005 against Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, he introduced himself as a leader guided by his family and Catholic faith. He also urged his fellow religious Democrats to talk about their faith in campaigns, saying "Voters want to understand what motivates you." When Republicans attacked Kaine's opposition to the death penalty, he responded with a TV ad in which he explained that his religious beliefs led him to oppose capital punishment, but that he would enforce the state's laws. Similarly, although he was personally opposed to abortion, he felt obligated to uphold its legality. 

Tim Kaine was inaugurated in Virginia's colonial capitol of Williamsburg as the state's 70th governor on January 14, 2006. His star on the rise, he was selected to give the Democratic response to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address shortly afterward. 

Battling partisan gridlock during his term, Kaine cut social welfare programs to balance the budget and invested in infrastructure development, but otherwise struggled to push through major legislation. His national profile continued to rise, however, as he was the first governor outside Illinois to endorse Barack Obama for president. He was widely considered a strong candidate to be picked as the Democratic presidential nominee's running mate, before eventually losing out to Delaware Senator Joe Biden.  

Kaine became chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2009, and held on to the position despite his party's significant losses in the 2010 midterm elections. He stepped down in 2011 with the intention of campaigning for Jim Webb's soon-to-be-vacated Virginia senate seat. 

After defeating former Virginia Senator and Governor George Allen in the 2012 campaign, Tim Kaine became the first senator to deliver a speech in Spanish from the Senate floor. 

Since being elected to his post, Kaine joined the Senate's Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations and Aging Committees. Among his accomplishments, he introduced the Troop Talent Act of 2013 to help servicemen and women transition to the civilian workplace, and coauthored the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Additionally, he is a founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, and has introduced legislation to address issues of sexual assault and drug treatment.

On July 22, 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced via text message to her supporters that she had selected Kaine as her vice presidential running mate. She also tweeted the announcement.

Kaine met his wife, Anne Holton, at Harvard Law School. Named Virginia's secretary of education in January 2014, Anne is the daughter of former Republican Virginia Governor Linwood Holton (1970-74), who desegregated the Commonwealth's public schools.

The Kaines, who married on November 24, 1984, are actively involved with Richmond's St. Elizabeth Catholic Church. They have three children: Nat, Woody and Annella.

Tim Kaine and his wife hosted the first Passover seder to ever take place in the Virginia Governor's mansion in 2006, during his first year in office.

U.S. - Israel Relationship

  • Kaine is a co-sponsor of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act.
  • “I’m a strongly pro-Israel Democrat, I’ve been to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office three times to talk to him about Iran during his current tenure as prime minister.... Our party has a long tradition of being pro-Israel, and being pro-Israel doesn’t mean we agree on everything, but we’re friends, we’re allies, we’re partners and to the extent we have disagreements we try to work them out productively.”
    (Forward, March 13, 2015)


  • In late 2015 Kaine signed a letter to President Obama along with 21 of his Senate peers expressing their concern about recent Iranian ballistic missile tests.
  • Kaine co-authored the Iran Nuclear Review Act to ensure that the nuclear agreement with Iran would not be rejected by Congress.
  • “The nuclear program will only stop by diplomatic agreement or military action. This deal takes a nuclear weapons program that was on the verge of success and disables it for many years.”
    (The Washington Post, August 4, 2015)
  • “Based on my review of this complex matter, I acknowledge that every option before us involves risk, with upside and downside consequences.  I understand how people of good will can reach different conclusions. But I also conclude that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a dramatic improvement over the status quo in improving global security. The agreement takes a nuclear weapons program that was on the verge of success and disables it for many years through peaceful diplomatic means with sufficient tools for the international community to verify whether Iran is meeting its commitments. In the negotiation, America has honored its best traditions and shown that patient diplomacy can achieve what isolation and hostility cannot.  For this reason, I will support it.”
    (Kaine Campaign Website)

Hamas and the Situation in Gaza

  • “The decision by President Abbas to pursue a unity government with Hamas was almost certainly destined to reach this moment. For those of us who care about finding a two-state solution – a secure state of Israel living peacefully side by side with an independent Palestine – the recent actions by Hamas demonstrate that it has not changed its fundamental denial of Israel’s right to exist. No peace is possible with such a partner. I call for Hamas to stop its unprovoked rocket attacks. And I also call on President Abbas to recognize that Hamas will not seek peace. He should separate the Palestinian Authority from this terrorist organization and both Israel and the Palestinian Authority should renew the hard quest for co-existence”
    (Times of Israel, July 23, 2016)

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • In March 2016, Kaine signed a letter with 26 other Senators, urging President Obama to continue his vocal support of a 2-state solution.
  • “I want Israel to be safe and secure in the future and I worry that some of the activities vis-à-vis Palestine have weakened Israel’s future security, not strengthened it.”
    (Breaking Israel News, July 24, 2016)
  • “Senator Kaine, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has consistently advocated the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the only way to ensure that Israel can survive and flourish as a Jewish and democratic state and that Palestinians can live with independence and dignity.”
    (J Street, July 22, 2016)


  • “I do not believe that this president or any president has the ability, without congressional approval, to initiate military action in Iraq or anywhere else, except in the case of an emergency posing an imminent threat to the U.S. or its citizens. And I also assert that the current crisis in Iraq, while serious and posing the possibility of a long-term threat to the United States, is not the kind of conflict where the president can or should act unilaterally. If the United States is to contemplate military action in Iraq, the president must seek congressional authorization.”
    (Roll Call, July 22, 2016)
  • “I am calling for the mission and objectives for this current significant military action against ISIL to be made clear to Congress, the American people, and our men and women in uniform. And Congress should vote up or down on it.”
    (The Hill, August 27, 2014)

Sources: “Tim Kaine Biography,”, (July 27, 2016).

Wikimedia, By United States Senate ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons