In all of his campaigning for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, it seems George Allen has forgotten that he has to run for reelection to the United States Senate this fall.
There has been quite a bit of talk inside the Beltway about George Allen's strong position in the race for the Republican nomination in two years as the conservative anti-McCain candidate (of course, one must remember that the Washington press corps does not understand that McCain, himself, is a fierce conservative). And Allen has been reading his press clippings, focusing not on his reelection bid in Virginia and instead on caucus voters in Iowa and primary voters in New Hampshire. Sheryl Gay Stolberg has the story for The New York Times.
George Allen makes little secret that he is bored with life in the Senate.
"I made more decisions in half a day as governor than you can make in a whole week in the Senate," Senator Allen said earlier this month as he dashed into a recent Republican fund-raiser in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Over eggs and hash browns with a Republican crowd in Davenport, he lamented about being in the Senate, "It's too slow for me."
Virginia voters will no doubt be interested to find out that Allen is apparently not interested in serving another term in the Senate. Do they really want to reelect someone who will spend more time outside of coddling conservative activists than representing the Commonwealth in Congress, especially when two strong Democratic candidates genuinely want the job?
Both James Webb, with whom we spoke last week, and Harris Miller, who we plan on interviewing this week or next, are highly credible challengers for Allen. Early polling from the race, courtesy of Rasmussen Reports, shows that Allen can't crack 50 percent against either Webb or Miller, a striking figure given the fact that neither Democrat had invested much in the race by the time the survey was in the field. (We should know more about the race when Rasmussen publicly releases its March polling on the race, which is now only available to paid subscribers.)
In many ways, the situation in Virginia today mirrors the situation in Pennsylvania slightly more than a year ago. In early 2005, Senator Rick Santorum spent a great deal of time engaged in the activities requisite for a run for President, writing an off-the-wall book and generally neglecting his constituents. Within just a few short months, however, Santorum was trailing his Democratic challenger, Bob Casey, by 20 points. How quickly things can change.
Virginia is not the same state as Pennsylvania, and George Allen is not Rick Santorum. That said, the strategy of contrasting the "presidential candidate" with the "senatorial candidate," which has thus far worked wonders for Pennsylvania Democrats, should be implemented in full force in Virginia to help ensure George Allen won't have to go back to his boring job come January.