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Arab America Picks a President: The VeepStakes

posted on: Jul 6, 2016


BY: Fred Shwaery/Contributing Writer

Barring a surprise move when the Democrats and the Republicans convene later this month, the  presidential candidates have been selected. Now, it’s on to the VeepStakes – the selection of vice presidential candidates.  

Donald Trump’s campaign has been keeping things under wraps but the Hillary Clinton campaign has been trotting out potential Veeps to gauge voter interest in these candidates. One such potential Veep is Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

A Vice President Kaine would be good for the Arab American community. Here’s why – Arab American Democrats in Virginia have had a long and warm relationship with Kaine. Kaine has been pro-active in reaching out to Virginia’s ethnic communities in his years in office.  

When Kaine was Virginia governor, he appointed a number of Arab Americans to positions in Virginia government including appointments to state boards and commissions and appointments in senior positions such as the appointment of a Palestinian Americans in the position of Deputy Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Saba Shami, a Palestinian American, has been a long-time friend of Kaine. Shami served in the Kaine Administration as Virginia’s Chief Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and on the Governor’s External Affairs Committee where they reached out to religious, ethnic, community groups throughout Virginia.

New Dominion PAC President Saba Shami and Senator Tim Kaine

“Tim Kaine always is accessible to our community,” Shami said. Kaine’s accessibility has been helpful to Arab Americans as he ensures that his constituents’ voices are heard. Shami noted Kaine’s role on Middle East issues adding that “Kaine is a moderate voice on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Kaine’s interest in foreign issues goes back many years. When he was a student at Harvard Law School, he took off a year of studies to be Jesuit missionary in Honduras. Today, he is fluent in Spanish and that helps him campaign directly to Spanish speaking voters.  

Tim Kaine in Government

Kaine has served in all three branches of government in local, state and federal levels. It’s hard to find anybody more well-rounded in government. He began his law career as a clerk in the US Court of Appeals.  Later, he was elected to the Richmond, Virginia City Council. He was elected Mayor of Richmond, then Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Governor of Virginia, and US Senator.  

At 58 years old, Kaine can be Veep for eight years and still be young enough to run for President. If the Republicans were to win the White House this year, Kaine likely would be the leading candidate to run for the presidency in 2020. Having served as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Kaine has political friends and contacts in all states.  

Kaine From the Political End

Vice Presidential candidates help round out and bring electability to the ticket. Kaine does that. There are about 12 swing states and Kaine can call two home – Minnesota where he was born and Virginia where he lives.  Other factors work well for him being selected to the ticket. If elected as Veep, Kaine will resign from the Senate giving Virginia’s Democratic governor the opportunity to select another Democrat as Kaine’s Senate replacement. In very-Democratic Northern Virginia, the Governor has a number of well-qualified elected officials to pick from.

Who Clinton and Trump select for their running mates will soon be known. Tim Kaine will be an excellent choice for the Arab American community. There are others who will be good for us, too – let’s see if they are picked to run.