RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is holding a media availability Friday morning in Virginia’s capital city amid speculation that he plans to announce whether he will seek a third term.
Questions about Kaine’s next steps have swirled since he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this month that he had not made a final decision about whether he would compete in 2024. He said he planned to make a decision by the end of January.
A Kaine retirement would be a blow to Democrats, both politically and practically in a swing state that is prized by both parties. Kaine, 64, is best known nationally as Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 presidential election, a race they lost to Donald Trump and Mike Pence in one of the most stunning upsets in U.S. history.
Virginia is a must-hold seat for Democrats facing a tough election landscape in 2024, alongside the presidential contest. Kaine would have been a strong favorite, even after the state elected a slate of Republican statewide candidates in 2021, including Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
Kaine was set to meet with the media Friday after hosting what his office described as an economic development roundtable with young Richmond leaders at a coffee shop in Richmond’s East End.
He said his office organized the event because he wanted a chance to get community feedback from young people in the state at the start of the new Congress. He attended the roundtable with his wife, Anne Holton.
Kaine’s press office declined to comment about Friday’s events beyond what was publicly advised.
Kaine is a fixture of Virginia politics who got his start in elected office on the Richmond City Council after working as an attorney and making a name for himself for his fair-housing advocacy.
He went on to serve as lieutenant governor and governor, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 and was tapped to be Clinton’s running mate in 2016.
Kaine is seen as a passionate yet pragmatic senator and is known as a serious policymaker and eager partner on legislation.
After his high-profile turn as the party’s vice presidential nominee — and a contest that marked his first ever electoral defeat — he returned to work in the Senate, often showing up in dark jeans during the coronavirus pandemic when an air of informality swept through the Capitol.
His own bout with the coronavirus led to what he has described as “mild long COVID symptoms,” as he pushes for funding toward research and care for those with the disease.
Mascaro reported from Washington.