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Thursday, December 8, 2022
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: What happened to Tim Kaine's mojo?

Editor’s Notebook: What happened to Tim Kaine’s mojo?

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A University of Mary Washington political poll of last week attempted to divine how a possible – albeit very unlikely, in my guesstimation – 2024 U.S. Senate matchup between incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine and newbie Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin might go.

Unlikely, in my view, because Youngkin has higher aspirations than that. But we shall see.

Nobody can predict the future, so putting out a poll about a theoretical matchup two years hence seems like the pollsters just had time on their hands. (It basically showed a too-close-to-call scenario, making it even less interesting.)


However, one item in the poll stuck out. It noted that Tim Kaine only has a 36% approval rating among poll respondents, with a 34% disapproval and the rest not knowing or not volunteering a response.

Now, Kaine has been in Virginia politics for a loooooooooooooooong time, so the number of people without an opinion of him being so high is a surprise. And the fact that he presents himself as a moderate nice guy also makes one wonder why he only has a +2 approval rating when the negatives are subtracted from the positives. (Youngkin, in the same poll, was a +15.)

These days, and especially after serving as the sidekick in the doomed 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, Kaine comes across to some as a mere reflexive vote for any Democratic proposal and a reflexive no for most Republican ideas. Hence he’s got the support of many Democrats, some independents and a smattering of Republicans, which, yep, adds up to about 36% of the Virginia electorate.

Will be interesting to see any upcoming polls relating to the performance of Kaine’s colleague, Mark Warner, who also started out as a middle-of-the-roader as governor, but has had to tack both left and more partisan to keep up with his own party.

(“I was Snow White, but I drifted,” as Mae West once said of herself. Seems to apply to both our senators.)

FUN TIMES IN MODERATION: A certain local civic group has announced plans for a candidate debate among Arlington County Board and School Board members slated for mid-month.

(A smidge late in the game to hold such an event; a whole lot of voters already will have sent in their ballots, and most of the rest aren’t paying attention to the local races. But perhaps a good opportunity for those who want to take a second look at the options on the table.)

Just to set a marker in the sand, given that a Washington Post reporter has been tapped to moderate the debate: If the Posties issue an endorsement in either of those campaigns prior to the night of the forum (unlikely but who knows), I expect the reporter to be yanked from moderating duties forthwith.

That’s what happened to me some years back.

I had accepted an invitation to moderate one of this group’s County Board debates. Yet I was unceremoniously disinvited literally the day of the event, apparently because organizers felt that, since the Sun Gazette had endorsed a candidate in the race that week, I wouldn’t be perceived as being a fair moderator.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as the sainted Aunt Dolly up in Boston would have exclaimed with vehemence decades back. Of COURSE I’d have been fair and balanced. I’d have whacked all the candidates around equally, as always.

Am I still irked by that imbroglio? Nah; it’s long in the rear-view mirror. But as we Irish have instilled in us the moment of conception: Forgive? Of course. Forget? Never, ever, ever.

THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN WRONG, RIGHT? Here’s one from the Sun’s archives, back this coming week in 1936.

Crime must have been problematic back then, too, but the proposed solutions were a tad more draconian, it appears. According to coverage, Virginia’s judges were debating the merits of bringing back old-fashioned whipping posts to deal with certain kinds of criminals.

Seems a tad unseemly, even for 1930s Virginia.

– Scott McCaffrey

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