Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate
The Washington Post Editorial Board
DEMOCRAT Tim Kaine and his Republican challenger, Corey A. Stewart, are rivals for the same U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, but they appear to be seeking the job in different universes and for different reasons.
Mr. Kaine, the incumbent seeking a second term, has run a campaign in keeping with the reputation he gained previously as a city council member, mayor, lieutenant governor and governor: upbeat, studious, decent, intellectually nimble and issue-oriented to the point of wonkiness. Mr. Stewart, who made his name bashing illegal immigrants as a member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, has run a campaign based largely on the politics of resentment, using angry, racially coded appeals, provocations and, in recent weeks, outright slander.
Mr. Kaine, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2016, is a credit to Virginia and to the Senate. Mr. Stewart, who has smeared “establishment pukes” of his own party and made good on his promise to run a “vicious” campaign for the Senate, is a disgrace. We endorse Mr. Kaine.
Mr. Kaine chaired the Democratic National Committee for two years before running for the Senate, but has been known on Capitol Hill as one of the upper chamber’s most constructively pragmatic lawmakers, regularly reaching across the aisle to sponsor legislation and forge relationships. When he was tapped two years ago as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, there was no shortage of GOP senators who professed their fondness and respect for Mr. Kaine, despite ideological differences.
Those bonds, and Mr. Kaine’s no-nonsense work ethic, have translated into a creditable list of legislative achievements — including the 17 bills he sponsored or co-sponsored that have been signed into law by Mr. Trump. And while there is no doubt about Mr. Kaine’s liberal bona fides, or his close ties to Barack Obama, he repeatedly challenged the former president by pressing the Senate to vote on authorizing military force in Syria and Iraq. That stance reflected his principled belief that Congress could not stand by mutely as a president wages war.
By contrast, it is impossible to imagine Mr. Stewart, given his penchant for partisan venom, forging partnerships with Democrats or working constructively to craft legislation. Provocation and sloganeering, not the hard work of positive, detail-oriented solutions, have been Mr. Stewart’s stock in trade. Indeed, he seems willing to do or say practically anything to grab a headline or score a point, as when, in his race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Virginia last year, he pledged to phase out the state’s income tax, which accounts for two-thirds of annual operating revenue — the funds that help pay for police, prisons, parks, social services and schools.
With Mr. Kaine enjoying a substantial lead in the polls, Mr. Stewart, having failed to gain traction by cozying up to white supremacists or posing as a champion of Confederate symbols, tried mud-slinging, suggesting Mr. Kaine had engaged in sexual harassment. No matter that there isn’t an iota of evidence to back it up — not a single such actual accusation against Mr. Kaine; the smear was still good for a few headlines.
Virginia would be well served by returning Mr. Kaine to the Senate. It would gain equally by sending Mr. Stewart packing and hoping Prince William voters do the same.