Virginia will be the focus of one of the nation’s most tightly contested U.S. Senate races in November’s election, as former governor and U.S. Senator George Allen tries to recapture the Senate seat that he lost in 2006 to Democrat James Webb.
Webb’s decision to not seek reelection has thrown the seat up for grabs, with most political analysts expecting a close race likely to pit two former Virginia governors – Republican Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine – against each other on Nov. 6.
Allen will bring his campaign to Rappahannock County next Wednesday (April 4) to a reception sponsored by the Friends of Liberty, a local conservative group. Allen will meet and greet Rappahannock citizens and speak and take questions at Gray Ghost Vineyards in Amissville, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Most national political pundits expect Allen to be the GOP nominee, though he is expected to face opposition in the scheduled June 12 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination. Jamie Radtke, a conservative activist and former leader of the Richmond Tea Party and the Virginia Tea Party Federatio, is challenging Allen for the nomination and has turned in more than 21,000 signatures to put her on the ballot, more than twice the required 10,000. One or more other Republicans, including Robert Marshall, the Virginia House of Delegates member from Prince William County, may also qualify for the primary ballot.
Radtke, who spoke to a Friends of Liberty meeting on March 15 at the Rappahannock County Library, is challenging Allen from the right, contending that he established a record in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2006 that was less than conservative, including votes to raise the debt ceiling, expand Medicare and increase overall Federal spending. She remains the underdog for the GOP nomination.
If Allen is the Republican nominee, polls point to a heated Senate election campaign which will attract national attention and heavy spending by both major parties and independent political action groups. Two recent polls showed the race too close to call at this point.
A Rasmussen Poll of 500 likely voters released March 21 had Allen with a slight lead (44 percent to 42 percent) over Kaine. A Quinnipiac University poll taken March 13-18 showed Kaine with a 47 percent to 44 percent lead, but in both voter surveys the results were within the polls’ margins of error.
Both major political parties expect Virginia to be a key battleground state in the general election, in the race for the presidency and for the Senate seat. Democrat Barack Obama won Virginia in the 2008 presidential election, the first time a Democrat had carried the state since 1964.
Obama is expected to campaign hard in Virginia this fall to keep the Commonweath in his win column, but the Republican party’s success in recapturing the governorship in 2009 and in winning House seats in 2010 gives the GOP hope to win both the U.S. Senate seat and the state’s electoral votes in the presidential election.