By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Now that Hillary R. Clinton has chosen Virginia’s U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate, the question is who will replace the Virginia lawmaker if the duo wins the General Election November 8. Kaine, in the middle of his first term as Virginia’s U.S. Senator, began campaigning with Clinton last week, days before the Democrats convened in Philadelphia to formally nominate the two to run against the GOP contenders, businessman Donald J. Trump and his running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
A number of current and high profile Virginia politicians are on the list Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe could name to replace Kaine if the Clinton-Kaine ticket should win. McAuliffe would be obligated to name a fellow Democrat. Democrats Kaine and Senator Mark Warner are in a U.S. Senate which now has a six-seat Republican majority. Kaine would have to resign immediately after the 2016 General Election should the Democrats win the White House. His interim replacement would have to run for Kaine’s seat in a special election in 2017 and again in 2018 for a full term of their own.
The election in 2017 would coincide with the race for Governor and Democrats are hoping that the contest would raise the turnout to the polls in the fall of that year.
Democrats hope to reclaim the U.S. Senate and whomever the Governor appoints must be able to run, win statewide and raise the millions of funds needed to finance a campaign against a Republican party which has designs on seizing the seat in coming elections.
At the top of that list is one of the state’s longest serving U.S. Congressmen, Robert “Bobby” Scott of Newport News. Others on the list are Congressman Don Beyer, Gerald E. Connolly, Attorney General Mark R. Herring or Brian Moran, a member of McAuliffe’s cabinet. If McAuliffe decides to nominate a seat-warmer to serve out Kaine’s term but not seek election, former governor L. Douglas Wilder or recently retired Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim may qualify.
Also there are women whose names have been mentioned by Democratic party operatives: Del. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond), a corporate attorney who is African-American, and Molly Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources and former mayor of Hampton. Either would be on the Senate short list, as could be Kaine’s wife, ex-first lady Anne Holton, who is the state’s Secretary of Education.
If Scott is given the nod, he will be Virginia’s first African-American U.S. Senator. He would join Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey to become the third Black person serving in that body currently. When he was elected Congressman in 1994, Scott was the first African-American to be elected to that body, Post Reconstruction.
Because of the Republican party’s numerical majority in the South, Republicans are not about to lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives any time soon. So would Scott want to cash-in his years of seniority in the House and forgo a Chairmanship of an important committee or leadership post, if the Democrats should regain control of the U.S. House.
Currently Scott is the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce;a position he might not want to relinquish the delegation’s dwindling seniority. Dr. Quentin Kidd, Vice Provost and director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University (CNU) believes that Scott’s statewide appeal, ability to raise money from the state party sources and political stature would make him a viable choice for Governor.
Kidd also gave a nod to Congressman Beyer and Delegate McClellan. But in a statement two days after Kaine was selected as Clinton’s running mate, and Scott’s name surfaced among those who would be considered, the Congressman played down the issue. “It’s far too early for me to speculate about an open Senate seat,” said Scott. “In addition to winning my own campaign for reelection, I’m going to spend the next four months making sure that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, and that we elect more Democrats to the House and Senate. Governor McAuliffe will have many qualified individuals to choose from to fill Tim Kaine’s Senate seat. I am confident the Governor will make a good choice.”