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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Granted, it’s been an unusually active political weekend, but there’s been surprisingly little reaction to today’s news that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine will become chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

My first reaction is that this is all very … predictable. Kaine was facing a very challenging set of circumstances if he wanted to continue to hold elected office: Virginia has an unusual law that prevents governors from serving consecutive terms (although Kaine could, theoretically, run again in 2013), and meanwhile, both of Virginia’s Senate seats are now filled by Democrats, and relatively young ones at that. Kaine’s political aspirations for at least the next four years, therefore, were going to be pretty much limited either to this particular job or to a position in Barack Obama’s cabinet. Given that Kaine was one of the first politicians anywhere to jump on the Obama bandwagon, it’s not surprising that he was paid back.

Kaine does strike me as being a pretty good fit for this position, though. He oozes a certain sort of optimistic sincerity that ought to play pretty well on television, where he’s liable to be deployed ubiquitously on the Sunday Morning talk circuit, perhaps sometimes playing “good cop” to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. It seems probable that Kaine’s role is going to be more about public relations than tactics, with the latter function to be fulfilled in large part by elements of the Obama apparatus itself.

The appointment will also give Kaine quite an opportunity to define himself as a candidate for national office, something that Kaine is plenty young enough to be thinking about.

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