Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is “increasingly likely” to run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, but he has not yet made a final decision, a committee spokesman said Monday.
The DNC and a source close to the former Virginia governor disputed an earlier report, which spread at the speed of Twitter, that Kaine had told students in a law class he teaches that he had made the decision to run.
“In response to a student’s question, Governor Kaine told his law school class today what is already widely known, which is that he is increasingly likely to run,” DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said in a statement. “However, no final decision will be made or announced until the governor has had a final round of consultations with folks about how he can best serve the President, the people and the causes he cares about.”
A source close to Kaine emphasized that he made “no definitive announcement” in his class, and has not made a decision yet.
Kaine served as Virginia governor from 2006 through 2010, and was lieutenant governor before that. He was the first governor outside Illinois to endorse Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. Obama named Kaine as chairman of the DNC just before his inauguration in 2009.
Virginia Democrats see him as one of their best candidates in the race to succeed Democrat Jim Webb, who announced in February that he would not seek a second term. Republicans already have multiple candidates in the race, led by the man Webb defeated in 2006, George Allen, also a former governor.
The race in Virginia is likely to be one of the most competitive Senate contests in 2012, as Democrats seek to preserve their slim majority in the upper chamber. Republicans need to pick up at least three seats, depending on the outcome of the presidential race, to win back a majority.
Virginia will likely be a battleground in the presidential race as well; in 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to carry the state in four decades. A Kaine candidacy would ensure that the White House has a proven vote-getter and an enthusiastic supporter of the president’s agenda on the ticket.
Obama recently told a Virginia television station that Kaine “would be a great senator from Virginia if he chose to do that.” The two met to discuss his future last month.