If Kaine Wins, Who Could Fill His Senate Seat?



With Sen. Tim Kaine accepting Hillary Clinton’s offer to run with her as vice president last night, who will take his place in the U.S. Senate should he win -- and when?

The answer is a bit convoluted.

If Kaine wins in November, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a fellow Democrat, would have to appoint a replacement for about a year. Then there would be a special election in 2017 followed by a regular election in 2018 for a six-year-term.

That is, of course, if the person McAuliffe appoints wants to keep the Senate job rather than just warm a seat temporarily.

If the former, names that come up are U.S. Reps. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Don Beyer and Gerald E. Connolly. Other Democratic possibilities include Attorney General Mark Herring and Brian Moran, McAuliffe’s public safety and homeland security secretary.

Potential placeholders could be former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, according to The Washington Post.

Scott might seem to have a leg up in the bunch. He’s a 12-term congressman and is an African-American who has the backing of key members of the Black Caucus. One drawback is that Scott is a ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, an important entity in shaping laws about teaching and labor.

“The two strongest choices are Bobby Scott and Beyer,” says Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. Both are from safe districts not likely to fall into Republican hands.

“The edge might go to Beyer,” he adds. Beyer was lieutenant governor for eight years and also served as a U.S. ambassador. That experience might make him more appealing to a broader, statewide electorate. Another reason is that Beyer has lots of experience raising campaign money and “that fundraising skill will be key,” Farnsworth says.

If not Scott, another possibility could be State Sen. A. Donald McEachin, a veteran legislator who's running for Congress from the 4th District, which was recently redrawn after a court fight over charges that Scott’s 3rd District had been gerrymandered by white politicians to back in blacks and thus dilute their voting strength in neighboring districts.

If there's a special election in 2015 for the U.S. Senate, GOP possibilities include former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli or U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman and Barbara Comstock.

Even U.S. Rep. Dave Brat, who got headlines by defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a stunning 2014 primary, might be in the mix.