Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said today that he is not interested in running for president in 2020, declaring himself committed to re-election to the Senate in 2018.
The announcement came a little more than a week after Democrats lost the presidential election with Kaine on Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her choice for vice president.
Republicans who privately talked of running for Kaine’s seat if Democrats had won instead have their sights set on 2018 and outside money is expected to flood the race.
“I’m assuming it’s going to the hardest race I’ve ever run,” he said during an interview in his Senate office. “Presidential elections we do well. Off-year elections are tough.”
Clinton won Kaine’s adopted home state of Virginia and the popular vote, but lost the electoral college to Donald Trump. Virginia was the only Southern state to land in the Clinton column.
It was the first election loss for Kaine, a one-term senator who was previously Virginia governor and lieutenant governor as well as Richmond mayor.
He has said he would like to fashion his Senate service after retired Sen. John Warner, R-Va., who spent 30 years in office, including a stint as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee.
Virginia Republicans had praised Kaine’s bipartisanship in the past, but criticized his presence on the national ticket.
“Tim Kaine’s decision to announce that he will not run for the White House in 2020 is a wise one,” Virginia GOP Chairman John Whitbeck said in a statement.
“After the voters of Virginia go to the polls in 2018 to weigh in on his dramatic abandonment of virtually everything he’s ever stood for to be Hillary’s running mate, it would be very difficult for then former-Senator Kaine to get any traction at all.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Jenna Portnoy