One of the highest-profile political matchups of the season is playing out in Virginia, where two former governors with powerful friends and big-money backing are battling to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.
The dead-heat matchup pits Democrat Tim Kaine, 54, a favorite of President Obama and a former Democratic National Committee chairman, against George Allen, 60, namesake of his legendary Washington Redskins football coach father and a U.S. senator until undone in a re-election bid by what has become known as his "macaca moment."
The race is seen as a test of the changing politics of Virginia, where, in 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to win the state in 44 years. It is one of nine swing states targeted by Obama, who in early polls is running slightly ahead of expected GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the Old Dominion.
Here's a comparison of the candidates:
Allen: Overhaul of state welfare system; sentencing law that barred parole in the state for violent felons.
Kaine: Transportation initiative to help congested Northern Virginia roads; biggest higher-education bond issue in state history.
Allen: Virginia House of Delegates, 1982-1991; U.S. House, 1991-1993; Virginia governor, 1994-1998; U.S. Senate, 2001-2007
Kaine: Richmond, Va., City Council, 1994-1998; Richmond mayor, 1998-2000; Virginia lieutenant governor, 2002-2006; Virginia governor, 2006-2010
Allen: Poorly executed 2006 Senate re-election campaign marked by calling a Democratic operative the derisive "macaca" — and welcoming the Virginia native of Indian descent "to America and the real world of Virginia."
Kaine: While Richmond mayor, spent $6,000 of public money on buses to the Million Mom March promoting gun restrictions; paid it back with privately raised money after backlash.
2012 Money Race
Allen: $6.13 million raised, $3.52 million spent as of March 31, with 13 percent coming from political action committees
Kaine: $7.43 million raised, $2.9 million spent as of March 31, with 7 percent coming from political action committees
Allen: Opposes abortion. Believes life begins at conception and advocates overturn of Roe v. Wade. Has 100 percent rating from National Right to Life group.
Kaine: Personally opposes abortion, based on his faith, but supports Roe v. Wade.
Allen: Endorsed by NRA. Voted against renewal of assault weapons ban. Was an original sponsor of act to repeal Washington, D.C.'s gun ban. Introduced legislation that would allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons.
Kaine: Supports gun owners' rights. After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, as governor he advocated gun limits, including preventing felons and the mentally ill from purchasing weapons.
Allen: Supports capital punishment. Presided over 24 executions as governor.
Kaine: Opposes capital punishment, citing his faith, but presided over 11 executions as governor; has supported moratorium on executions.
Allen: Married twice; three children with second wife, Susan Brown. They met at a horse racing event in Charlottesville, Va., in the mid-1980s.
Kaine: Three children with wife, Anne Holton. They met in law school; she's the daughter of former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton, a Republican.
Allen: Presbyterian. During the 2006 Senate campaign, learned from his mother that she had been raised Jewish while growing up in North Africa.
Kaine: Roman Catholic. During a break from law school, taught with Jesuits in Honduras, where he became fluent in Spanish.
Allen: Bachelor's degree in history and law degree, both from University of Virginia.
Kaine: Bachelor's degree in economics, University of Missouri, and law degree from Harvard University.
Allen: After serving as governor, worked as a lawyer specializing in business expansion and relocation. Served on board of directors at three high-tech government contractors.
Kaine: Before becoming governor, worked as lawyer specializing in civil rights and fair housing cases. Chairman of Democratic National Committee, 2009 to 2011.
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