Former Governor Tim Kaine says he’s flattered by the attention, but Saturday night he told Virginia Democrats he hasn’t decided if he will run for the U.S. Senate.
More than 14-hundred Democrats gathered at the Greater Richmond Convention Center to hear from state party leaders and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, but many also wanted to know if Kaine is seriously considering a bid for Jim Webb’s seat.
Kaine told the crowd he’s still weighing his options. "I do understand in the aftermath of Jim's announcement how important this seat is," Kaine said, "so my wife Anne and I, and everything we've done we've done as a team, we're spending some time reflecting about it and I'm going to make a decision soon about whether I can best serve the Commonwealth and the nation as chair of the party or as a Senate candidate."
Other potential candidates, including former 5th District Congressman Tom Perriello were also working the audience Saturday night.
In fact, Perriello supporters were gathering signatures, and pushing a Draft Perriello effort before the dinner. Aimee Fausser said she thinks Perriello is the best candidate to beat George Allen. "We think that a strong showing of grass roots support would hopefully encourage him (Perriello) to run," Fausser told News 7.
Kaine said that no matter what decision he makes, he’s confident a Democrat will win the seat in 2012.
Will he or won’t he?
That’s the question, Virginia Democrats are asking about former Governor Tim Kaine, as they consider who will run for the U.S. Senate next year.
Kaine will be on the program at the Richmond Convention Center, where Demorats are gathering Saturday night for their annual Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner.
He’s scheduled to introduce the keynote speaker, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, an appearance that was scheduled before Senator Jim Webb announced that he will not run for re-election
Kaine might not be ready to announce his intentions, but Democrats, and the other potential Senate candidates, will be listening closely to what he has to say.
The only potential Democratic candidate who has won statewide, Kaine is generally considered the party’s best hope to defeat former Governor George Allen, Jamie Radtke or any of the other potential GOP candidates.
"There will be excitement and electricity in the room, particularly when he takes the stage," said Martinsville Delegate and House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong Saturday afternoon. "And I think some of that is going to be an outpouring of enthusiasm for his candidacy, and I think he’ll pick up on that," Armstrong said.
Close to 1500 Democrats are expected for the state party’s largest annual fundraiser.
The person they ultimately choose may be less important, says political analyst Bob Holsworth, than the popularity of President Barack Obama when he runs for re-election.
"And if President Obama doesn’t win, it’s probably going to be very difficult for any Virginia Democrat to win," Holsworth told News 7 in an interview, "but on the other hand if Obama carries the state again, there may be more Democrats than Tim Kaine who could actually win that race.
If Tim Kaine decides not to run, Virginia Democrats insist they have other strong candidates.
Supporters of former 5th District Congressman Tom Perriello, for example, will be here pushing their Draft Perriello movement.