The 2016 presidential race is over, and now all the drama that's left is who President-elect Donald Trump will select for his cabinet, and whether or not he'll cover the White House in gold-plating. But for some of the players on the Democratic side of the campaign season, there are still lingering question marks ― what's next for Hillary Clinton, for example. And for that matter, what will Tim Kaine do next?
The former Democratic vice presidential nominee had a rough week, losing out on the nation's number-two job despite the Clinton-Kaine ticket winning the popular vote. In fact, the margin of their popular vote victory hasn't even settled yet ― there are still millions of ballots yet to be counted, and they're expected to pad their lead out even further.
And yet, it was all for naught, thanks to the electoral college and the campaign's collapse in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. But even though the loss effectively ended Clinton's political career, that's not true of her running mate. In fact, Kaine has at least two more years ahead of him in Washington, with his first term as Virginia's junior senator ending in 2018. It remains to be seen whether he'll seek reelection, or whether he might start mulling a presidential bid of his own, but at just 60 years old in 2018, he'll have any number of options open to him.
In the short term, however, Kaine will be headed back to Capitol Hill, a key part of the Democratic senate minority that'll be the strongest remaining line of defense against the Trump agenda, or that of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan ― unless the GOP-led senate kills the filibuster, of course.
For the next two years at least, in the simplest sense, that'll be Kaine's job, acting as an essential (though very atrophied) check and balance on the power of the incoming administration. Except under any circumstances where he, congressional Republicans, and President Trump agree on a matter of public policy, of course. But if there were ever a presidential race that you could expect to leave some lingering hostilities, it'd be the one that just transpired.
As such, it's pretty impossible to know just how open Kaine will be to compromise, or whether he'll stake out a position as an anti-Trump hardliner, the kind of stance that could help him in a presidential run of his own someday. This much is clear, however: his future in Democratic Party politics isn't over just yet, and given his widely-reported penchant for forging bipartisan relationships, he could still hold a lot of influence in the incoming Senate.