Paint Texas blue? Kaine won’t guarantee it

January 21, 2009

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.

USA-OBAMA/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.

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young (Obama introduces Kaine at DNC headquarters, Jan. 8)

6 comments

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I think as more comes out about what a train wreck this past administration has been more and more moderates will shift to the Democratic party. The trick is not letting the extreme fringe of either party set policy. We are a country of centrists and it’s time we started acting like it.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

I want to congratulate Governor Tim Kaine. Tim’s strong record of accomplishment has resulted in Virginia being named the best managed state in America.

Eric. Wow. This might be the most reasonable comment I have ever read on a comment board. Thank you.

Posted by Troy | Report as abusive

Every time a democratic majority is elected, there is talk of the death of the republican party. Each time the talk is wrong. In the last 50 years, prior to this election there were only two times a democrat was elected president with over 50 percent of the vote. 1964 (Johnson) and 1976 (Carter). In both instances the democrats said the republican party was dead. In both instances, the elected democrat was not elected to a second term. Carter even entered the presidency with a 75 percent approval rating (Obama has an 80 percent approval). Of course, past results are not a guarantee of future results, but any talk of the republicans with conservative values not coming back are ludicrous. The democrats will overreach and that will once again swing the pendulum. That is a fact.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Nobody is saying that the Republican party is dead, wounded but not dead. I just think there are plenty of people like me who don’t care who marries who, believe that abortion should be legal/safe and that the separation church and state is a good idea. There are plenty of gun owning sportsmen (my self included) who want a clean environment without being environ”mental”ists. Plenty of people who may not think climate change is man made but don’t want to sent billions a year to the Saudis. People who want a strong defense force but see the folly in an overgrown and wasteful military budget. After seeing what Bush has done or not done in the last eight years and the continuation of those policies in the McCain/Palin ticket I think a lot of the middle came back to the Dems, calling home the Reagan Democrats I guess you could call it.
Just to clarify, LBJ could not have won a second term in ’68 because he didn’t run. Given what Nixon had to deal with I can’t say I blame him.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Eric H. You are right about Johnson but he knew he would not be re-elected. Either way he did not serve past his one term. The Great Society and Vietnam (now there is a conflict/war that was a true waste of our precious resources) conflict.

BTW, just a side point, I don’t disagree with many of your points about what you would like to see. Your ideas of what you would like to see in the world are not necessarily middle of the road viewpoints. However I part ways with you on abortion for ethical/moral reasons (please don’t read into it any deeper than that and try not to categorize me again. It is just a simple difference of opinion).

It is also a matter of opinion of what a strong military entails. You might think it is overgrown, whereas I don’t think it is strong enough. I happen to have a lot of experience in this area. Let’s just say we differ here too. Nothing personal at all.

I am not sure I see your point about climate change and sending money to the Saudis as anything more than comparing apples to oranges. However, I am a strong believer we should heavily invest in solar and wind energy as a way to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. In the meantime, we do what we have to do as a nation. Change takes time.

I am 100 percent with you on owning guns. The government better leave my right to own a gun alone. That is one way the democrats may try to overextend and it will prove fatal to their cause. There are plenty of conservative and blue blood democrats who agree with the right to own guns.

As for Bush. Yes, I happen to believe he did the best he could and I agree with him on a lot of things (not everything, just a lot of things). He wasn’t the worst president ever and history through the test of time will show this to be true. Even Obama is continuing many of Bush’s policies. We can split hairs on this, but he doesn’t deserve the bum rap he has been given since the first day he took office. All I know is I have been safe and free since 9/11 and I thank Bush for making it happen. Just my humble opinion.

As for Obama. I don’t have anything against him, I really don’t. However, the cult status he has doesn’t add up to his election victory with only 52 percent of the vote. The frenzy is undeserved (it is something you would expect had he won with 80-90 percent of the vote, then I would see the logic). However, there are still nearly 50 percent of the voters who did not vote for him. For all the money he spent to be elected, he could only muster 52 percent of the vote? Something is wrong with the picture. Only time will tell.

Also, for as bad as McCain/Palin were supposed to be, they got nearly 50 percent of the vote with hardly any money and the media telling us how bad they were. Again, the Obama frenzy just doesn’t add up.

Bottom line, we aren’t as far apart as you think. I just happen to believe Bush got a bum rap for his entire presidency and Obama gets undeserved adulation. Either way, it is undeserved for both of them.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive