By Jim Ellis
July 26, 2016 — Hillary Clinton’s choice of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate became official over the weekend, and it tells us several things about her campaign.
First, she appears to have taken the politically safe route in tabbing the more centrist Kaine, a senator, former governor, and ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Second, the move suggests that she feels comfortable with her November prospects and base support, since Kaine does not have great appeal to the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren left. Additionally, his selection doesn’t appear to have direct pull within the minority communities, though Kaine speaking fluent Spanish will undoubtedly be highlighted whether or not it attracts any actual votes.
The real reasons for picking him, however, are that Sen. Kaine is unlikely to make any major mistake on the campaign trail, and he proves an important asset in converting his home swing state, Virginia, to the Democratic column. The Old Dominion (13 Electoral Votes) has been considered battleground territory in the 21st Century’s presidential elections, breaking twice for each party.
In 2000, George W. Bush carried the commonwealth 52-44 percent, and followed up with a 54-45 percent win four years later. But, then-senator Barack Obama reversed the tide in 2008, converting the state with a 53-46 percent margin, and, as president, tacked on a 51-47 percent Virginia victory against Mitt Romney in the most recent national election. With Sen. Kaine on the ticket, Clinton now has a distinct advantage in an important state.
The latest Wikileaks move to release over 19,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails has cost Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) her position as the DNC chair. Forced to resign over the clear anti-Bernie Sanders bias within the publicized documents made it impossible for her to be viewed as an impartial party convention figure just as proceedings begin today in Philadelphia.
But Wasserman Schultz’s problems are bigger than the national convention show. She now faces an even more competitive bid for re-nomination in Florida’s 23rd US House District come the Aug. 30 Democratic congressional primary. Businessman Tim Canova (D) actually out-raised her by almost $500,000 in the 2nd Quarter and had just under $1 million in his campaign accounts at the end of June. Though Wasserman Schultz obtained less in the past three months, she still posted more in the way of receipts for the entire campaign, and had at least $600,000 more in the cash-on-hand column.
The question now arises whether Sen. Sanders and his forces will commit the maximum effort to defeating her in the party primary. Sanders long ago endorsed Canova, which the candidate said led to an immediate $250,000 income boost in online contributions from people across the country. Now that the congresswoman has been deposed from her national party position, will the Sanders wing of the party attempt to extract her political scalp?
This August in South Florida is assured of being a hot spot not only for humid temperatures, but also in regional politics. The national situation is undoubtedly giving Canova increased momentum, but whether he can fully capitalize against a six-term incumbent from a district that overwhelmingly chose Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary remains to be seen.