RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said he will run for re-election in 2024, easing Democrats’ concerns of having a new candidate up against a Republican after the GOP’s statewide victories two years ago.

Sen. Kaine (D-Va.), who has been in the Senate since 2013, announced his re-election bid alongside his wife, Anne Holton, outside a Richmond cafe where he was hosting an economic development roundtable with young state workers, advocates and others.

Democratic senators encouraged Kaine to pursue a third term, he said, but President Joe Biden did not ask him to run. Kaine, 64, listed four reasons for his decision, which he said he “grappled” with and made just last week.

“I’m a servant, I love Virginia, I’m proud of what I’ve done, I have a whole lot more I want to do,” Kaine told reporters Friday outside the Front Porch Cafe in Church Hill.

Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate in 2016, called it “an unusual decision,” noting that most don’t come with an eight-year commitment, including two years of campaigning and a six-year term.

His decision not to retire keeps a crowd of Democrats from battling it out in a primary ahead of the 2024 elections, when Republicans will be looking to flip one of Virginia’s two U.S. Senate seats.

Kaine described Virginia as a “battleground” state that’s on the blue side, acknowledging next year’s election would be “tough” after Republicans, led by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, swept the last statewide elections in 2021.

“Look, the success of Governor Youngkin and the statewide ticket in ‘21 shows you that, hey, Virginians will vote for Republicans in statewide elections, so nobody can take that for granted,” Kaine said.  

Democrats hold a slim majority in the U.S. Senate, but the party will defend more than twice the number of seats than Republicans in 2024, raising the stakes of the elections.

While Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner, two Democrats, have been able to fend off GOP challengers to win re-election, the Republican candidate would have faced off with a new candidate in the general election had Kaine retired.

The Democratic senator has a long political résumé rooted in Virginia, where he served as governor and lieutenant governor, and in Richmond, where he was mayor and a city council member. 

Before representing Virginia in the Senate, Kaine was picked by then-President-elect Barack Obama as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.