Remembering the old Tim Kaine

Published 7:06 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Last week at the Democratic Convention, the country was introduced to vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine. This was not the Kaine I met 14 years ago. In fact, quite the opposite from the trash talking showman at the convention.

My first contact was after he was elected lieutenant governor. On the day or so prior to his being sworn into office, we met in my office at the General Assembly Building. Shortly after he arrived, the fire alarm went off. He was so focused on talking policy that he did not want to leave. I respected that but I had to convince him that the building is a firetrap in order to get him moving.

Other things that come to mind were his commitment in his race for governor that he would not raise taxes. However, between election day and prior to being inaugurated, he “changed his mind” deciding that a major tax increase was needed to accomplish his goals to grow state government.

In Kaine’s last year in office he was irritated that the General Assembly did not agree to another of his proposed massive tax increases. In an act of revenge, he closed down the welcome centers along our interstates. Never mind that only months earlier VDOT had purchased the paint needed to improve the centers — clarifying this was nothing more than a stunt.

As he prepared to leave office as governor, he gave Virginia two big surprises. The first, he left the General Assembly a budget that included more tax increases which required incoming Gov. Bob McDonnell to reduce that proposed budget by $6 billion to avoid a budget shortfall.

Even though Kaine is a very likeable person, in my opinion, he evolved from a person that wanted to work across party lines to someone who insisted that things had to be his way.

On a positive note, he did make at least one positive change over the years. Seven or eight years ago, he was selected by the Democrats to give their response to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address. After that televised speech, he was ridiculed nationally for his left eyebrow rising up at odd moments. In his speech at the convention, he dealt with that very well. He simply kept both his eyebrows stretched up as far as possible the entire speech.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the Virginia Senate. His email address is