- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2009

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is set to become the next chairman of the Democratic Party.

Two Democratic officials said Sunday that President-elect Barack Obama has chosen the governor to take over the Democratic National Committee.

The officials spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been officially announced.

A Kaine spokesman did not return calls seeking comment. In November, Mr. Kaine said he wasn’t interested in the DNC job. Mr. Kaine also had previously ruled out appointments such as Cabinet posts, saying he wanted to finish his term as governor.

Mr. Kaine plans to work at the party part-time until 2010, when his term as governor is up and he can take over the DNC full time.

Current DNC Chairman Howard Dean plans to step down Jan. 21, the day after Mr. Obama’s inauguration.

Mr. Obama has also chosen Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who directed his successful campaign battleground-state strategy, to run day-to-day operations at the party as executive director.

With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, the new DNC chairman will be responsible for reinforcing the White House message, preparing for the 2010 midterm elections and raising money.

The Republican National Committee is meeting this week, in part to elect a chairman. The new RNC head will be expected to take the lead in responding to the Democratic administration, as well as rebuilding a party left in tatters after sweeping defeats in two consecutive elections.

Mr. Kaine campaigned vigorously for Mr. Obama in Virginia during his presidential run. The day after the election, he said Mr. Obama’s triumph - the first for a Democrat seeking the presidency in 44 years - was the apex of everything he had worked for since law school.

Mr. Kaine was mentioned as a possible running mate after Mr. Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, but Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. eventually won that spot. After the election, Mr. Kaine was mentioned as a potential choice to serve as education secretary, but Mr. Obama instead chose Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Arne Duncan.

Virginia law prohibits an incumbent governor from running for re-election.

A former DNC chairman, Terry McAuliffe, in a video posted on his Web site Saturday, said he will make his intention to run for governor official Wednesday as part of a weeklong campaign kickoff.

Two other Democrats have been active for nearly a year in an already contentious nomination fight to succeed Mr. Kaine - state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County and former House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian J. Moran.

The Democratic nominee will face Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell, who is unchallenged for his party’s nomination, in the Nov. 3 election.

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