by Jonathan Singer, Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 07:27:06 AM EDT
For the better part of the last year Virginia's junior Senator, Republican George Allen, has been trolling for votes, an activity that befits a Senator running for reelection. The problem for Allen is where he has been trolling for votes: New Hampshire and Iowa. But now that Virginia Democrats have settled on their Senate nominee -- a remarkably strong candidate in the form of former Reagan Navy Secretary Jim Webb -- it looks like Allen won't have much time to campaign for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination anymore, as Mike Glover reports for the AP.
Allen, who faces a Senate challenge from Democrat Jim Webb, said he probably would not return to Iowa, where precinct caucuses launch the presidential nominating season, before the November election. He dismissed suggestions that other potential White House candidates would have an edge because they are free to roam Iowa. [emphasis added]
A year ago, the Virginia Senate race was not even on the map of most politics-watchers, save, of course, for the speculation that Mark Warner might make a go against Allen. But today, not only is this race competitive, but the Democrats are actually in striking distance of knocking off George Allen. Just ask George Allen.
Allen had worked hard in recent months to show everyone just how out of touch he is with Virginians. In March, for example, he told potential Iowa caucus-goers that he wished he had been born in their state; that same month he told another group in Iowa that he was, in effect, bored in the Senate. But with Jim Webb emerging out of the Democratic primaries, however, not only is Allen no longer pandering to Iowans in the most obvious of ways, he is in fact not even going to go to Iowa any more before election day.
Some might say that forcing George Allen to actually campaign for reelection is a victory in and of itself. To an extent, these people are correct. But the time for moral victories has since passed for the Democrats, and real victories must be secured on election day. Luckily for the Dems, Webb has the political acumen, the resume and the gravitas necessary to win this fall, and with just a little bit of help from the establishment and a bundle of backing from the netroots (not to overlook a great grassroots effort), Webb just might be able to pull off a squeeker this November in Virginia.