Kaine Headlines DNC Fundraiser in Arkansas as Virginia Floods

With Virginia flooding and under an emergency declaration, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine headlined a private Democratic fundraiser Thursday in Arkansas.

Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, appeared with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe at a private $250-per-ticket luncheon at a home in Little Rock.

Kaine had left the state before steady, wind-whipped rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida combined with a nor'easter began flooding the southern, central and coastal areas of the state Wednesday afternoon.

He was in Memphis, Tenn., when he declared a state of emergency for Virginia on Wednesday night, putting government agencies on alert to respond to damage from the storm, said communications director Lynda Tran.

Widespread flooding was reported in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and other areas exposed to the Atlantic Coast and lower Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries. The Dan River at Danville was predicted to crest Thursday night or early Friday nearly 10 feet above flood stage.

Kaine was scheduled to return to Richmond Thursday night, meet with emergency officials Friday morning at the Emergency Operations Center, then tour storm-damaged areas in south central and Tidewater areas of the state, Tran said.

"He's in constant contact with his chief of staff and with his emergency management people," said press secretary Gordon Hickey. "He's very well informed of what's going on."

Hickey said there was little the governor could do until the storm subsides and the flooding recedes.

Republicans, who assailed Kaine throughout this year's elections for governor and other statewide races and House of Delegates seats, said Kaine's absence amounted to "political dereliction."

"It's clear who his taskmasters are, and it's not the people of Virginia," said Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia.

Kaine leaves office Jan. 16, the only governor in the nation barred by his state from seeking re-election to a second term. Republican Bob McDonnell was elected in a landslide last week to succeed Kaine.

Initially, neither the governor's office nor DNC officials would disclose Kaine's whereabouts, citing a long-standing precedent Virginia governors have invoked for decades of not divulging travel itineraries because of security concerns.

State and party officials confirmed Kaine's Arkansas fundraising stop, however, after The Associated Press found details about it on the DNC's Web site.

Reporters were not allowed into the Little Rock event.