TIM KAINE WILL BUILD BRIDGES His track record of bi­par­ti­san lead­er­ship will help fur­ther the com­mon­wealth’s best in­ter­est on Capi­tol Hill

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Opinion -

On Elec­tion Day, Vir­gini­ans will have the op­por­tu­nity to vote for one of three can­di­dates run­ning for U.S. Se­nate: in­cum­bent Tim Kaine (D), Corey Ste­wart (R) and Matt Wa­ters (L).

Sen. Kaine has held the seat since 2013 and is joined on the bal­lot by Mr. Ste­wart, an in­ter­na­tional trade at­tor­ney serv­ing his fourth term as chair­man of the Prince Wil­liam County Board of Su­per­vi­sors, as well as Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date, Mr. Wa­ters, who is a Penin­sula na­tive and po­lit­i­cal fundraiser.

Sen. Kaine has the ex­pe­ri­ence, acu­men and tem­per­a­ment to rep­re­sent Vir­ginia, and he should be re-elected on Nov. 6.

His op­po­nents both de­clined in­vi­ta­tions to meet with this ed­i­to­rial board. That does not mean, how­ever, the in­cum­bent would have re­ceived our en­dorse­ment by de­fault.

Re­fus­ing to sit down and dis­cuss the is­sues in a nu­anced fash­ion makes it nearly im­pos­si­ble to en­dorse any can­di­date. And, in fact, such dis­mis­sive stances are a dis­ser­vice to the pub­lic they claim to want to rep­re­sent.

Sen. Kaine chose to meet with ed­i­to­rial board mem­bers of both the Daily Press and its sis­ter pa­per, the Vir­ginian-Pi­lot in the lat­ter’s Nor­folk of­fice.

The se­na­tor, and for­mer Vir­ginia gover­nor, presents him­self as “a bridge-builder, not a wall­builder,” who has drafted leg­is­la­tion signed by pres­i­dents of both ma­jor par­ties.

He is now on the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices, For­eign Affairs, Bud­get and Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, La­bor and Pen­sions (HELP) com­mit­tees. They are all po­si­tions that give him a voice at the ta­ble when it comes to is­sues that af­fect Hampton Roads, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary, vet­er­ans affairs, sea level rise and the econ­omy.

Sen. Kaine has used the past five years to work with col­leagues of all po­lit­i­cal stripes, in­clud­ing Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to fund a 355-ship Navy ap­pro­pri­a­tion, and his leg­is­la­tion to boost mil­i­tary spouses’ em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties was in­cor­po­rated in the Na­tional De­fense Au­tho­riza­tion Act.

He isn’t just a party-line vote for the Democrats, ei­ther. He has con­tin­ued to fight for Congress’ role in the au­tho­riza­tion of mil­i­tary force, which put him on op­po­site sides of the is­sue with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

If re-elected, Sen. Kaine will al­most cer­tainly re­turn to a GOP-con­trolled Se­nate, meaning he will re­main in the mi­nor­ity party. Dur­ing our in­ter­view, he ad­mit­ted he could im­prove re­la­tions with Ma- jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell. We urge him to con­tinue work­ing across the aisle if re-elected.

Bi­par­ti­san ef­forts to craft leg­is­la­tion agree­able to both par­ties will be needed to fur­ther re­form health­care and over­haul this coun­try’s ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion in the com­ing years.

The se­na­tor is right by say­ing im­mi­gra­tion re­form will ul­ti­mately help bol­ster our work­force and the econ­omy. That is par­tic­u­larly true for farm­ers and wa­ter­men who rely on im­mi­grant la­bor to fill out their em­ploy­ment rolls.

Sen. Kaine be­lieves a Demo­cratic-con­trolled House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives — they need to flip 24 GOP-held seats on Nov. 6 to win the ma­jor­ity — could pro­duce mean­ing­ful leg­is­la­tion on im­mi­gra­tion re­form, uni­ver­sal back­ground checks for gun own­ers and an ex­pan­sion of fed­eral Pell grants that could be of­fered for ca­reer and tech­ni­cal cour­ses. Those leg­isla­tive pieces, he says, could be passed by the Se­nate and moved to the White House for the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture.

We urge him to push for those re­forms re­gard­less of which party holds the ma­jor­ity in the up­per and lower cham­bers of Congress.

The se­na­tor is the best-equipped can­di­date on the bal­lot to use a do­cent’s touch in mak­ing sure leg­isla­tive ef­forts are guided through Congress and into to the White House. We are not con­vinced Messrs. Ste­wart or Wa­ters are ca­pa­ble of act­ing in a sim­i­lar fash­ion as one of Vir­ginia’s two se­na­tors.

Some of our most pointed ques­tions en­ter­ing this elec­tion sea­son sur­rounded the po­si­tions of Mr. Ste­wart, whose bom­bas­tic rhetoric con­cern­ing im­mi­gra­tion, race re­la­tions and sex­ual harassment have gar­nered him na­tion­wide head­lines.

But can he ex­plain how his na­tion­al­is­tic ap­proach to pol­i­tics will ben­e­fit the res­i­dents of Vir­ginia? This board, and the res­i­dents of the Penin­sula, were not given an op­por­tu­nity to find out.

While we ap­pre­ci­ate his thirst for pub­lic ser­vice, we can­not en­dorse Mr. Ste­wart in large part be­cause we have not had the op­por­tu­nity to talk to him about is­sues im­por­tant to our read­ers, such as sea level rise, the mil­i­tary, vet­er­ans affairs and for­eign eco­nomic re­la­tions.

Mr. Wa­ters, in de­clin­ing our re­quest for an en­dorse­ment in­ter­view, made it a point to say his re­fusal was ex­tended to ev­ery other mem­ber of the state’s Lib­er­tar­ian party run­ning for pub­lic of­fice. That de­ci­sion seems to be an­ti­thet­i­cal to what pub­lic of­fice is truly about.

Ul­ti­mately, Sen. Kaine presents the best choice for Vir­ginia, and his ap­proach to bridge-build­ing will serve this com­mon­wealth best over the next two years.

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