RICHMOND, Va. — Sen. Tim Kaine (D – Virginia) said that both he and Sen. Mark Warner (D – Virginia) do not want the U.S. Senate to get involved in the controversy over the Washington Redskins’ name.
“We both think the team should change the name,” Senator Kaine said in an interview with VCU’s “iPadJournos” project at a VCU forum on Tuesday. “But we don’t think it’s really a matter for the Senate to get into.”
Senator Warner, who is running for re-election, was criticized by his Republican challenger Ed Gillespie earlier this week for not saying whether he would support an initiative by several Democratic senators, which threatens to strip the NFL team of its tax-exempt status if the name is not changed. Gillespie ran a campaign commercial against Warner during ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage of the Redskins’ game.
“Mark Warner refused to answer whether he supports the bill or not,” the commercial said. “Why won’t Warner fight the anti-Redskins bill? Why won’t he answer the question?”
At the end of the commercial, Gillespie said he will oppose the bill and added that he wants to “let the Redskins handle what to call their team.”
Kaine said both he and Warner decided that it was up to the Redskins’ owner to make the right decision, just as the owner of the Washington Bullets basketball team changed the name to the Wizards.
“With a Senate that is dealing with the unemployment rate, and a Senate that is dealing with a lot of things, we don’t really think the right venue for having this discussion is to take the Senate’s time to deal with this,” Kaine said. “But we do think an enlightened owner will find a better name.”
In the interview, Kaine also renewed his call for ethics reform in Virginia government after a recent series of scandals.
“We really need ethics reform at the state level,” Kaine said. “I hope that the state, the governor and the legislature, pick up the federal system and use that as a model here.”
Kaine added that “at the state level, I think when the legislature comes into session in January, state ethics reform should be one of the top priorities.”
This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.