You might have guessed it was coming: Democratic Sen. Mark R. Warner, the self-described radical centrist who has made a name for himself both in Richmond and Washington for bipartisan work on fiscal issues, gives U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine a literal slap on the back and the on-air blessing of Virginia’s most popular politician in a new ad for Mr. Kaine in his U.S. Senate campaign against Republican George Allen.
In the 30-second spot, titled “Great Team,” Mr. Kaine and Mr. Warner walk toward each other in front of the Virginia state Capitol in Richmond, as Mr. Kaine talks up the billions he cut from the state budget and Mr. Warner points out that they both reduced their own pay as governor (as did Mr. Allen when he was governor of the state).
“Mark Warner and I reached across party lines to get things done,” says Mr. Kaine, who served as lieutenant governor under Mr. Warner.
“We were a great team in Richmond,” Mr. Warner says.
“And we’ll be a great team in Washington,” Mr. Kaine says.
Mr. Allen’s campaign responded by pointing out that Mr. Kaine cut his pay by 5 percent well into his second year as governor, while Mr. Allen cut his own pay by 10 percent and Mr. Warner by 20 percent. Mr. Kaine’s cut, announced in 2008, was part of a broader package of spending reductions in the face of the emerging national economic downturn. Mr. Kaine also decided to cut his $36,000-a-year lieutenant governor’s salary by 30 percent in 2002.
“Before there was Mark Warner or Tim Kaine, there was George Allen, who set the example for them as the first governor to cut his own pay by 10 percent,” said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis. “George Allen also reduced the size of state government by 9 percent, lowered taxes and helped Virginia create 300,000 jobs. That’s one example Virginians wish Tim Kaine had followed. Instead, he left Virginia with 100,000 jobs lost, closed rest stops, skyrocketing tuition and a unanimously rejected budget containing tax hikes on people making as little as $17,000 a year.”
Kaine senior adviser Mo Elleithee, though, said it was curious that Mr. Allen’s camp focused on the former governors’ respective pay cuts.
“Senator Allen was the only candidate in this race to actually ever vote to raise his own pay — he did it four times during a time of fiscal challenge,” Mr. Elleithee said on a conference call Monday, referring to votes Mr. Allen cast in the U.S. Senate on congressional pay bumps.