Kaine quits DNC, enters U.S. Senate race to succeed Virginia’s Webb

The Washington Post

By Ben Pershing

Timothy M. Kaine announced Tuesday that he would run to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb, giving Virginia Democrats a marquee candidate for a race that could help determine control of the U.S. Senate and the political direction of a rapidly evolving state

I’m running!” Kaine said on his Twitter feed, adding a link to a video highlighting his record as a Richmond City Council member and mayor, as well as governor of Virginia. Kaine, who stepped down Tuesday as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, followed up with an e-mail to supporters about his decision.

His announcement ends a waiting game that began when Webb (D) said in February that he would not run for a second term. On the Republican side, former senator and governor George Allen and Jamie Radtke, the former chairwoman of the Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots, are running.

The commonwealth is one of a handful of competitive states that could decide control of the Senate in 2012, when Democrats must defend 23 seats and Republicans must defend 10.

“Virginia is the kind of race that Democrats need to win in order to hold the majority,” said Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

The fight for Webb’s seat will rage on a battlefield that has changed significantly since Allen and Kaine held office.

The last time Allen won a campaign — his 2000 Senate race — Virginia was less affluent, more ethnically homogenous and more firmly in the Republican camp. In the ensuing decade, the state’s population and economic might have increasingly shifted to Northern Virginia, which is home to thousands of newcomers.

And the contest will be expensive: Based on recent campaigns, Kaine and Allen, his likeliest Republican opponent, will probably spend more than $20 million combined

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