Cantor, Kaine, McDonnell Make NBC's "Top 10 Risers" List

Thursday, December 24, 2009

MSNBC's "First Read" has named Eric Cantor, Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell to its "Top 10 Risers of the Decade" list. In addition, Jim Webb and Mark Warner make the "Honorable Mentions" list. Here are the entries for Cantor, Kaine and McDonnell:
7. Eric Cantor: No current Republican congressman has risen so far, so fast. Elected just nine years ago, Cantor now serves as the No. 2 figure in the House leadership. He is just 46.

8. Tim Kaine: Kaine began the decade as a little-known mayor of Richmond and as then lieutenant governor. But his 2005 gubernatorial victory in Virginia ended up serving as a model for future Democratic campaigns in 2006 to 2008. And that win -- as well as his three-plus years as governor -- catapulted him as VP finalist last year. He's now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. What's next?

9. Bob McDonnell: As was the case with Kaine's gubernatorial victory in Virginia in 2005, Republican Bob McDonnell -- who won this year's VA Gov contest -- has become an instant star in his party. And assuming he enjoys success as governor, McDonnell will be an automatic VP possibility (or higher?), given that Virginia is a must-win presidential battleground state for Republicans.
As far as Cantor is concerned, what amazes me is that someone so completely clueless and airheaded can possibly be a "riser" in American politics. As far as Tim Kaine is concerned, I agree that he's come a long way in just a few years, from mayor of Richmond to governor (for a few more weeks) and DNC chair. Where he goes from here is hard to see, however, unless he thinks he has a shot at the White House in 2016. I'm skeptical. Finally, Bob McDonnell certainly has risen quickly, but now he's got to demonstrate he can get things done as governor, despite the disastrous budget situation caused by the Republican Recession. Good luck.

Regarding the "Honorable Mentions," I definitely agree about Jim Webb, who went from being a writer, journalist, and former Reagan Navy Secretary to defeating George Allen in one of the most exciting, surprising political races in many years. Where does Webb go next? Hopefully, to reelection in 2012, to reforming the U.S. criminal "justice" system, etc. As far as Mark Warner is concerned, he's certainly been a star in Virginia, but not so much so far in terms of his national ambitions. We'll see if Warner runs for president in 2016, as he was gearing up to do in 2006 before he pulled his hat out of the ring. We'll also see whether he carves a distinctive niche for himself in the U.S. Senate and/or notches a major legislative accomplishment (or two or three) for himself in the next few years. If Warner does that, he'll definitely qualify for the "riser" list.