Kaine's name jumped to the top of many lists when Webb announced he wasn't running. Kaine, the former governor of Virginia, fits the bill for past winning Democratic Senate nominees in Virginia (see: Sen. Mark Warner). But he's said publicly that he's not interested in the race, which will pit the Democrat against whomever emerges from the Republican field currently led by former Senator (and governor) George Allen.
Now it seems the White House could be trying to change Kaine's mind. President Obama and Kaine are by all reports close, and it's widely believed Virginia will get a lot of love from the President during 2012. Obama was the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win the state since Lyndon Johnson, and has shown a continuing interest in politics there. What's more, early polls have shown Obama is still competitive in Virgina, which could mean any Senate nominee would benefit from big time Obama campaign spending as the election draws near.
Early polling shows Kaine could be at least as strong as Webb against Allen. A PPP (D) poll taken in November showed Kaine leading Allen in a hypothetical matchup 50-44.
For now, Kaine's staying coy about his plans. From the Dispatch:
[Kaine] said he was "flattered" by the interest and support shown for him running for office, but said he needs to have additional discussions on the matter before making a decision.