Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, whose pro-life stands in state-level offices stand in stark contrast to a socially liberal voting record since being elected to the U.S. Senate, has been selected as the running mate of presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The former secretary of state and first lady announced her selection July 22 via text message to her supporters, The New York Times reported.
Elected to the Senate in 2012, Kaine served as Virginia's governor from 2006-10 and as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009-11. Previously, he served as Virginia lieutenant governor and mayor of Richmond.
Virginia pastor Rodney Autry, who has advocated for pro-family concerns in the commonwealth for two decades, told Baptist Press Kaine is "a study in contrasts."
Kaine is "essentially a good guy with a true moral center" whose public policy unfortunately "does not reflect his personal beliefs and life choices," said Autry, pastor of Union Baptist Church in Hayes, Va., which cooperates with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
"The personal positions of former Gov. and now Sen. Tim Kaine are quite agreeable to many evangelical convictions," said Autry, who served on the 2015-16 Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Nominations and is a former member of the SBC Executive Committee. "However, his public policy and voting record is rather disparate from what would be a satisfying effort on the part of one supported by biblical conservatives."
As a gubernatorial candidate in 2005, Kaine pledged to reduce the number of abortions in Virginia by promoting adoption and abstinence-focused sex education, Politico reported. During his tenure as governor, Virginia received an F grade from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in 2007. Two years later, he signed a bill authorizing the sale of "Choose Life" license plates.
Since his election to the Senate, however, Kaine has received a perfect rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America three years in a row and opposed defunding Planned Parenthood.
In an interview with NBC News last month, Kaine, a Roman Catholic, said, "Personally, I'm opposed to abortion."
But he went on to explain, "I deeply believe, and not just as a matter of politics but even a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They're moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves, and the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions."
When President Obama included Kaine on his short list of potential running mates in 2008, the then-governor's "personal opposition to abortion generated significant scrutiny," Politico reported.
Kaine's policy stances have shifted on so-called homosexual rights as well.
As a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2001, Kaine told The Associated Press he opposed same-sex marriage. Four years later, he opposed granting adoption rights to same-sex couples while running for governor, according to The Washington Post.
However, in 2006 he campaigned against Virginia's state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. Then during his Senate campaign, he supported same-sex adoption when declared by a judge to be in a child's best interest, The Post reported.
Kaine's Senate votes have garnered a 90 percent approval rating from the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-homosexual rights lobbying group.
Still, the conservative publication The Federalist referred to him July 22 as "a moderate Democrat who doesn't scare religious conservatives on sensitive things like the right to life."
John Upton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, told BP Kaine's pro-life stands as governor "cost him some votes in the Democratic side of things, but he stood very strong on that issue."
Upton met with Kaine once a year while he served as governor and said Kaine seemed willing to listen to concerns from the faith community.
"Since I've been executive director, he's been the most accessible to the religious community of any governor we've had," said Upton, who has served in his current position since 2002. Kaine "was very responsive and just very open to listen to our concerns, and he was also very transparent."
Brandon Pickett, SBCV associate executive director, told BP Kaine is more conservative on economic issues than he is on social issues.
"According to those who know Sen. Kaine best and have worked with him while he was governor of Virginia, he is known as an honest and honorable man who stands by his word," Pickett said in written comments. "They say he leans moderate right on economic issues while leaning left on social issues. That being said, these state leaders say while he may have at one time been pro-life he now believes in upholding Roe v. Wade."
Kaine is scheduled to formally accept the vice presidential nomination next week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.