Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will seek reelection in 2024, giving Democrats some good news as they prepare for an extremely tough Senate map with several incumbents up for reelection in red states.
“I’ve been honored to serve people as a missionary, civil rights lawyer, and elected official at the local, state, and federal levels. I love the Commonwealth and its citizens and want to keep being your Senator,” Kaine said in a statement Friday.
Kaine’s announcement came after speculation in Washington and in Virginia that he might step down at the end of his second term. He told reporters at a Friday morning event in Richmond that he made his decision to run for reelection just last week.
Kaine has been outspoken about his struggles with long COVID, revealing last year that his symptoms included a “24/7” tingling sensation and that his body has “not gone back to where it was before” he was first infected with the virus in 2020. He helped introduce legislation to improve research and provide federal resources for those suffering from the lingering disease.
“I tell people it feels like all my nerves have had like five cups of coffee,” Kaine told The Washington Post last year.
Kaine began his long political career in Richmond, first serving on the city council before becoming its mayor. He was elected as Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 2001 and then as governor in 2005. In 2009, he began a two-year stint as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He won his first election to the Senate in 2012 after former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) stepped down. In the 2016 election, Kaine was tapped as the Democratic nominee for vice president as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
Kaine has been a leading progressive voice on foreign policy in the Senate, advocating for reasserting Congress’ constitutional role in declaring war and authorizing the use of military force, including the 2002 Iraq War authorization. He’s also been a key proponent for child care, reproductive rights and civil rights.
Kaine’s decision to run for reelection bolsters Democrats’ odds of retaining the Virginia Senate seat. Still, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) victory in 2021 ― the first GOP statewide win in Virginia since 2009 ― is one reason Democrats would be foolish to take the race for granted. Though it has trended blue, particularly in federal races, the commonwealth has been a historic battleground that could still offer surprises, particularly with President Joe Biden at the top of the ticket with an expected bid for a second term.