Why Tim Kaine has already made history

Posted at 1:02 PM, Jul 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-24 07:41:44-04

Hillary Clinton is hoping her decision to tap Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate will go down in history as a move that helped her capture the presidency, but it's already rife with historical implications. Here's a look at why Kaine's addition to the ticket is notable in US history.

Sitting senator

Kaine's selection extends a remarkable streak in which 17 of the last 18 Democratic conventions -- including the last eight in a row -- have nominated for vice president either a sitting senator or an incumbent vice president who was a senator when he was first elected.

The lone exception between 1944 and 2012 is 1984, when New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro was nominated to join Walter Mondale on the ticket. Also note that in 1972, the Democratic convention nominated Sen. Thomas Eagleton, who subsequently left the ticket and was replaced by Sargent Shriver, who had never served in the Senate.

The complete list: 1944: Sen. Harry Truman; 1948: Sen. Alben Barkley; 1952: Sen. John Sparkman; 1956: Sen. Estes Kefauver; 1960: Sen. Lyndon Johnson; 1964: Sen. Hubert Humphrey; 1968: Sen. Ed Muskie; 1972: Eagleton (replaced by Shriver); 1976: Mondale (then a Minnesota senator); 1980: Mondale; 1988: Sen. Lloyd Bentsen; 1992: Sen. Al Gore; 1996: Gore; 2000: Sen. Joe Lieberman; 2004: Sen. John Edwards; 2008: Sen. Joe Biden; 2012: Biden.

It's also worth noting that eight men who served as both a governor and a US senator have been on a major-party ticket, most recently in 1968. That list: John Tyler (Whig, 1840); Herschell Johnson (Democrat, 1860); Hannibal Hamlin (Republican, 1860); Andrew Johnson (Republican, 1864); Benjamin Gratz Brown (Democrat, 1872); Thomas Hendricks (Democrat, 1876 and 1884); Joe Robinson (Democrat, 1928); and Muskie.

Virginian vice presidents

Kaine's nomination would also end a remarkable drought for the commonwealth of Virginia. No Virginian has ever been nominated as vice president by the Republican or Democratic parties. The only Virginian to ever run as vice president on a major party ticket was Tyler, the Whig candidate who ran with William Henry Harrison and became president upon Harrison's death in 1841. It's worth noting that Tyler, like Kaine, served as both a governor and senator from Virginia.

A Virginian named James Field also ran on the Populist party ticket in 1892. No Virginian has been on a major party ticket as vice president  in the 20th or 21st century, and only one Virginian -- Henry Anderson -- has even received so much as a single vote for vice president at any Democratic or Republican convention since 1900.

Famous Tims

No one named Tim or Timothy has ever received a vote for president or vice president at any Democratic or Republican convention, and only one man named Timothy -- former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- has ever been considered a serious candidate for president or vice president in the nation's history.


This marks the fourth straight election in which the Democrats have a Catholic on the ticket. The Democratic Party has nominated eight Catholics for president or vice president (Biden in 2008 and 2012, John Kerry in 2004, Ferraro in 1984, Eagleton and Shriver in 1972, Muskie in 1968, John Kennedy in 1960 and Al Smith in 1928). The GOP has done it twice (Paul Ryan in 2012 and William Miller in 1964).

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