After a relatively promising tenure as Virginia governor, Tim Kaine (D) transitioned to a relatively uninspired stint in the U.S. Senate prior to his selection as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 ticketmate.
So sure were most professional and amateur prognosticators – ourselves included – that Clinton was going to win the White House that, long before the votes were tallied, the guessing game had begun on which political figures would jump into the fray in an effort to fill out the remainder of the senator’s term.
It was not to be. Clinton lost and Kaine returned to the U.S. Senate, a little bruised after a performance as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee that most would describe as lackluster.
One might think that Kaine, who if you look at his recent record has careened further left than most Virginians would appreciate, might offer the GOP a tempting target in 2018. But whichever of the three Republican candidates emerges from the June 12 primary to take him on, odds remain heavily in the incumbent’s favor.
Three Republicans – E.W. Jackson, Corey Stewart and Nick Freitas – are on the ballot. Coming to an endorsement is a relatively easy affair, as neither Jackson nor Stewart impresses us as a viable candidate. Either one as Kaine’s opponent would likely only manage to further sink the self-immolating GOP’s fortunes in the Old Dominion.
Freitas, a relative newcomer to the House of Delegates from Culpeper, is not Mount Rushmore material, but he is the last man standing. While robustly conservative, which will work against him in a state that is trending somewhat left, he has the ability to make a coherent case for his party and his own candidacy in a way that neither of his intra-party opponents can.
Republicans hoping to at least have a shot at replacing Kaine should go with Nick Freitas. Any other choice would waste the opportunity to win the seat.