Don't try to accuse newly-inaugurated Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine of patronage hiring.

He announced (second item) last week that he was hiring Mary Kilgore -- the wife of Kaine's opponent in last year's election -- as the executive director of the state's tobacco settlement foundation.  Actually, Kaine was re-hiring her. Mary Kilgore served as that position from 2001 to summer 2004, when she resigned to help in her husband's gubernatorial campaign.

Kaine, a Democrat, said that Mary Kilgore was "energetic and effective" at her post, and he called her an "experienced public servant."

Everyone has his own opinion about whether it's a good or bad idea to hire people for political reasons. But regardless of how you feel about political hiring, it's refreshing to see Kaine hire a political adversary (well, the wife of one) based on her qualifications.

And it's smart for Kaine, as well. He gets a qualified, proven, experienced manager, as well as some valuable bona fides about "reaching across the aisle."