Sen. Tim Kaine spoke Tuesday, April 3, 2024, at Redbeard Brewing Co. in Staunton to kickoff his “Standing Up for Virginia” 2024 election campaign. Photos by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

Thirty-nine years ago, Sen. Tim Kaine and wife, Anne Holton, honeymooned in the city of Staunton.

The couple, who met at Harvard Law School, returned Tuesday afternoon to celebrate, but this time to mark the kickoff of Kaine’s re-election campaign for U.S. Senate in 2024.

After Harvard, Kaine joined a Richmond law firm where he specialized in fair housing law and in 1994 was elected to Richmond City Council. He served as mayor of Richmond from 1998 to 2001.

From 2002 to 2006, Kaine served as Lieutenant Gov. of Virginia and succeeded colleague Sen. Mark R. Warner as the Commonwealth’s governor from 2006 to 2010.

A U.S. Senator since 2013, Kaine ran in 2016 for vice president with Hilary Clinton as the presidential nominee.

A former Democratic National Committee chair, Kaine warned constituents and residents of Staunton at Redbeard Brewing Co. that this election will be “a tough challenge” and “stand-up people have got to win.”

Staunton City Council member Alice Woods spoke before Kaine about serving the Queen City.

“Sen. Tim Kaine has lived his life serving, being a servant,” Woods said.

Ann Holton and Sen. Tim Kaine listen to Staunton City Council’s Alice Woods speak at Kaine’s kickoff event in Staunton for his reelection to U.S. Senate. Photo by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

From city council to Washington, D.C., Kaine represents Virginians, she said.

Holton, former Virginia Secretary of Education, introduced her husband with whom she shares three children.

She said the couple have spent many “a get-away weekend” in Staunton enjoying the local sites and restaurants. However, Holton’s family roots go further back to when her mother and grandmother graduated from Stuart Hall School when it was a girls boarding school.

She referred to Kaine as “her rock” and a steadfast partner as they raised three children and she recently buried both of her parents.

“Today I’m excited to stand with him as he launches his campaign to re-up his service in the United States Senate,” Holton said.

Kaine said that 30 years ago he was running for Richmond City Council for the first time. In fact, Tuesday morning he and staff knocked on doors in Richmond for his 2024 campaign and a few were the same residents whose doors he knocked on in 1994.

Growing up in Kansas, Kaine’s father owned and operated his own welding company, and Kaine sometimes had to help out when he was not at school.

“I wasn’t wild about it then, but what I learned from my dad was hard work, pitch in,” Kaine said. He also learned to be optimistic. “I’m so so fortunate with the way I was raised.”

After college, Kaine spent time working with missionaries in Honduras. Because of his family’s business, he was able to run a school in Honduras and eventually teach youth about welding. The school is still open today.

“I learned in Honduras, people are people,” he said.

He also learned about standing up for others.

After meeting Holton, “we’ve just been standing up for people ever since.”

“And I’ll tell you perfectly why right now. Because we’ve got too many leaders in this country who are not about standing up, they’re about tearing it down,” Kaine said of America’s current political climate.

Kaine said he has stood up for Virginians by cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, expanding Medicaid, improving healthcare, expanding public transit and rail and expanding broadband.

“So, it’s a time we can show what we can do if we show up for others but we also see the opposite,” Kaine said.

In summer 2017, Kaine remembers the night when Republicans were preparing to take Obamacare away from 30 million Americans. He said Obamacare was saved by one vote.

“That was the night I realized that ‘wow, sometimes it comes down to just one person standing up,’” Kaine said. “What if I hadn’t run for the Senate in 2012?”

Kaine said that Democrats are up against a disgraced president “who has got to be one of the primary tear-down specialists who has ever served in any office in this country.” He said former President Donald Trump tears down Democrats, Republicans, basic virtues of honesty, respect, fidelity and patriotism, and tears down NATO.

“Tearing down rights and protections that we have counted on for years,” Kaine said referring to reproductive rights.

On January 6, 2021, Trump tore down the very democracy of America while Kaine and his colleagues were barricaded inside the U.S. Capitol.

“We’ve never had anyone in a leadership position in this country who is such a tear-down specialist as Donald Trump,” Kaine said.

He said despite the challenge he knows he and his constituents can prevail against the tear-down individuals because he has seen what Virginians can do and they do not tear anyone down.

“You’re the kind of people that we have to count on right now to stand up for democracy itself,” Kaine said.

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