While polls indicate Democratic statewide candidates may be told to take a metaphorical Election Day hike, the party's leader, Gov. Tim Kaine, is already doing just that.
Kaine, who voted at 7:30 a.m. at Main Street Station, afterward took a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At Nelson County's Crabtree Falls, to be precise. It's a well-known habit for Kaine, an avid outdoorsman, to go hiking on Election Day, and a tradition for Virginia governors to take the day off as well.
But Kaine's decision to take a hike on this particular Tuesday isn't sitting well with some. Rumors among local Democratic Party insiders swirled this morning when many began hearing Kaine that had informed staffers of his travel plans in an e-mail.
“They don't get that this is an issue,” says a Democratic Party insider. “That's the shocker to me. This could be spun a number of ways and I think the governor should get in front of it.”
Right now, they're not. The Democratic National Committee, of which Kaine is chairman, referred calls about Kaine's whereabouts to the governor's office. The governor's office declined comment.
“He's not in the office,” says Kaine's press secretary, Gordon Hickey. “He's got nothing on his schedule today -- I know that because I'm not with him.”
Hickey did not confirm the hike, but others did.
“It's a fact,” says one longtime Kaine insider, confirming his Tuesday trip to the scenic George Washington National Forest, where Crabtree Falls is located. Friends from his old North Side neighborhood where his career in politics began accompanied him on the trip, the insider says.
“There's a tradition of governors taking Election Day as a hike,” says the insider, because during most general elections for statewide office, shaking hands at the polls is unlikely to deliver anything in the way of a game changer. “It's no big deal. He's not trying to telegraph anything negative.”
There are exceptions to that rule: “Last year Tim didn't take Election Day as a hike because he worked for Obama,” the insider says.