STERLING, Virginia – Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has emerged as the leading contender to join the Democratic ticket as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, according to two Democrats, who both cautioned that Clinton has not made a final decision and could yet change directions.

Liberals have expressed wariness of Kaine for his support for free trade, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership – which both Clinton and primary rival Bernie Sanders oppose.

If Kaine was selected for the ticket, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and ally of the Clintons, would choose a temporary replacement, but the race for the remainder of Kaine’s term would take place in 2017, raising the possibility that Republicans could win the seat.

He first met her through his late brother-in-law, who worked with Clinton on the Watergate Committee in 1972, and she campaigned for Vilsack in 1998 during his surprise victory as Iowa governor.

Kaine could help Clinton woo moderate voters who have been turned off by Trump’s provocative rhetoric.

Kaine campaigned with Clinton last week in northern Virginia, w he spoke briefly in Spanish and argued that Trump was unqualified, untested and untrustworthy.

“Do you want a ‘you’re fired’ president or a ‘you’re hired’ president?” Kaine said in Annandale, Va., as Clinton nodded.

Tim Kaine