By JESS NOCERA, MAGGIE GOTTLIEB and JENNA HECKER
Capital News Service
COLLEGE PARK – Maryland’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention praised Hillary Clinton’s decision Friday to select Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., as her running mate — even if some would have preferred a different person.
Clinton tweeted her decision late Friday with a picture of her fist-bumping Kaine, calling him “a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others.”
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 23, 2016
Delegate Courtney Watson of Ellicott City applauded Kaine — a former mayor, governor and head of the national Democratic Party– for his “great track record in governing.”
“He’s a moderate who can help bridge the divide in Congress. He has the right temperament and will round out what will be a very solid ticket to take on (Donald) Trump in November,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a Democratic superdelegate, tweeted moments after the Friday evening announcement: “@HillaryClinton – @timkaine !! #ImWithHer”
— Ben Cardin (@BenCardinforMD) July 23, 2016
But some other delegates were less than 100 percent pleased with the selection of the Virginia Democrat.
“[Kaine is] not a very progressive pick, in my opinion,” said delegate Connor Callahan of Colora, who supported Bernie Sanders. “It’s not going to excite Bernie Sanders supporters.”
And while Darius Baxter, a delegate from Accokeek, said that Kaine was “an overall good pick,” he was hoping Clinton would have picked a woman.
“I wish she had done an all-female ticket,” Baxter said. “It’s 2016, it definitely would have done a lot for the Democratic Party and for the American people.”
Kaine, 58, is one of only 20 people to have served as a mayor, governor and senator in American history, according to CNN.
A former mayor of Richmond, Virginia, Kaine was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 after serving as Virginia’s governor and chairman of the national Democratic Party. He currently sits on both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, panels that give him foreign policy and national security credentials.
He’s also fluent in Spanish. In June 2013 he became the first senator to give a full speech on the floor in any language other than English, according to CNN.
Clinton is scheduled to make a previously announced campaign stop in Miami Saturday, where she now is expected to formally introduce her running mate. Kaine will almost certainly speak — at least in part — in Spanish to the huge numbers of Spanish-speaking voters in south Florida.
Delegate David Goodfriend of Bethesda said that Kaine’s ability to speak Spanish, “could go a long way to convey how important the Latino community is.”
And, Goodfriend said, “he could help deliver Virginia, a critically important state.”
A key battleground state, Virginia swung its electoral votes to President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It had gone Republican in the 10 presidential elections before that.
Polls show a tight race between Clinton and GOP nominee Trump in Virginia. The Real Clear Politics average of polls taken in the state over the last month gave Clinton a slight edge — 44 to 39 percent — with a four-point average margin of error.
While delegate Nancy Floreen of Garrett Park, the president of the Montgomery County Council, “loves Mr. Kaine,” she said her first choice would have been Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who lives in Takoma Park.
“He brings labor, business and the Hispanic community to the table in a way that we haven’t seen before,” Floreen said, calling Perez, “one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”
Edward Fischman, a delegate from Bethesda, was also pulling for Perez.
“Perez is brilliant and charismatic. He is also renowned for being a great activist for workers, which is why he rose so quickly to his current job,” Fischman said.
Fischman, a Sanders supporter, said Kaine “would not have been on the short-list for any Sanders supporter,” due to his stance on trade. Kaine supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade pact negotiated by the Obama administration.
Goodfriend said he wasn’t sure Kaine would electrify Sanders voters as much as some of the other running mates the Clinton campaign considered.
But compared to the Republican ticket, Kaine “is somebody who stands out as reasonable and thoughtful and underscores that when we’re in stormy times, you want a confident and calm hand at the tiller.”
–Hannah Klarner and Andrea Cwieka contributed to this report