VA senator doesn’t take hint from midterm elections on Keystone


MOVING FORWARD: Sen. Tim Kaine stuck with his vote against Keystone, even after his colleague Sen. Mark Warner’s close call this election season.

By Kathryn Watson |, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—When the relatively well-liked Democratic Sen. Mark Warner squeaked past his little-known Republican challenger with less than 1 percent of the vote this month, some whispered the less-approved Sen. Tim Kaine should be worried.

By the looks of his vote and comments on Keystone Pipeline XL, however, Kaine, also a Democrat, didn’t take a hint from his fellow senator.

“We have to continue to move forward towards a cleaner energy economy,” Kaine said before contributing to voting down the bill, which was one vote short of passage at 59-41, with 13 Democrats — including Warner — voting for it.

Virginians, who approve of the Keystone XL Pipeline by an overwhelming margin of 67-23 percent, according to a February Roanoke College-Rutgers poll, didn’t necessarily approve of Kaine’s vote.

A tweet from Diane Kelly of Winchester may sum up the sentiment:

VA tweet

In May 2013, Warner had positive ratings of 53-27 percent, according to Public Policy Polling’s numbers. Kaine had a much narrower positive spread of 44-38 percent. A little more than a year later, Warner’s approval ratings according to PPP had dropped to 49-40 percent. Kaine hasn’t been included in recent polls, since he isn’t up for re-election until 2018.

Kaine serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection. His single-largest contributor, from 2011 to 2014, is the League of Conservation Voters. They donated roughly $165,000.

Kaine and Warner both took the hint on Harry Reid post-election. The Virginia senators were two of just six Democrats to shoot down Reid’s ultimately successful bid to lead the Democratic Party in the Senate.

The other detractors were Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for’s Virginia Bureau, and can be found on Twitter @kathrynw5.