Now that the likely nominees for both parties have emerged (though Bernie Sanders says he's still in the game), rumors about potential vice presidents are swirling madly ahead of the conventions. Candidates typically announce their running mates just a few weeks leading up to the convention, but in this crazy election season, an announcement could come from either candidate at any time. One of the top potential picks for Hillary Clinton is Virginia senator Tim Kaine, a rare Southern Democrat who is currently serving his first term in the Senate. Who is he? You might not have heard of him yet, but that's pretty likely to change.
Kaine would be a great balance to Clinton's ticket for numerous reasons, not least of which is his home state. Virginia is a hugely important swing state, represented by 13 electoral votes, and delivering those for Clinton's campaign could provide a critical gateway to other Southern states. But there's a lot about Kaine that makes him a solid fit for the Clinton ticket.
Kaine also has a strong record on gun control, one of the primary tenants of Clinton's campaign. During his short time in the Senate, he's introduced legislation to make gun sellers criminally liable for misuse of guns, something Clinton successfully held over Sanders during the early debates in the primary season. Kaine also speaks Spanish fluently, a skill he displayed when he delivered one of the only speeches ever given in Spanish on the Senate floor in 2013. The deepened connection to the Hispanic community, which makes up a rapidly growing portion of the electorate, would be ideal for this election.
But there's really a single huge reason that Kaine would be a solid VP pick — he would be perfectly primed to make his own run at the White House in eight years. Part of the importance of this year's vice presidential selection is the movement toward creating a Democratic dynasty and helping to ensure another Blue White House after Clinton's term is over. At 58, Kaine isn't too young to be potentially considered inexperienced and isn't too old to be considered past his prime when it would be his turn for the nomination.
The one thing Kaine can't bring to the table is the "diversity card." Early rumors for Clinton's VP pick centered around Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, which would make the already historic ticket even more astonishing by delivering both the first female president and the first Latino vice president. And in a way, it does seem a little anticlimactic for Clinton to choose a white man as her running mate, when other rumored choices like Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker not only felt like great people for the job, but brought the added excitement of breaking historical barriers and increasing representation. But if Kaine is best for the job, then he's best for the job.
Whether Kaine ultimately becomes the next Democratic vice presidential nominee or not, his star is likely on the rise within the Democratic party. With the Democrats looking to take back the Senate this year, keeping strong Democratic senators is just as important for the party as the vice presidency. Kaine has a bright future ahead of him, and this very likely won't be the last time you hear his name.