Paint Texas blue? Kaine won’t guarantee it
WASHINGTON – New Democratic Party head Tim Kaine wants to continue to win territory from Republicans, but he’s not ready to guarantee victory in George W. Bush’s home state.
As he took control of the Democratic National Committee from outgoing chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday, Kaine said he would continue Dean’s “50 State Strategy” to win votes in conservative places like Idaho and Utah.
“We will never again be a party that writes off states or regions or people,” Kaine said. “The 50 state strategy is now and forever what Democrats do.”
Kaine noted that was among the strategy’s first beneficiaries when he ran for Virginia governor in 2005.
But he declined to match Dean’s prediction that President Barack Obama will carry Texas when he runs for re-election in 2012. Obama lost Texas to Republican John McCain by 11 percentage points in the November election.
“I’m kind of more of the say-you’re-an-underdog-everywhere-and-sneak-up-on-people (school), rather than tell them you’re going to win, but I will say this: the trends in Texas are very positive,” Kaine told reporters.
Dean’s party-building in conservative areas helped Democrats win sweeping victories in 2006 and 2008, even though some Democrats – including Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel – viewed the strategy as a waste of money.
Both Dean and Emanuel are known to be prickly personalities. Dean was conspicuously out of the country when Obama announced two weeks ago that Kaine would succeed him as head of the Democratic National Committee, a move that some Dean supporters described as disrespectful.
But both Kaine and Dean had kind words to say about each other at the meeting on Wednesday.
“I feel like I’m taking over from someone who just won 3 Super Bowls in a row,” Kaine said.
Among Kaine’s first tests will be governor’s races in New Jersey and his home state this fall. State law prohibits Kaine from running for a second term as governor.
But he will remain in the governor’s mansion through next January – an arrangement that has stirred criticism from Republicans in the state. Kaine said he will mostly work on DNC matters on weekends until the state legislature adjourns at the end of February.
Republicans elect their new party chairman next week.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young (Obama introduces Kaine at DNC headquarters, Jan. 8)