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Analysis: What The Race Between Allen, Kaine Boils Down To

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Reid Wilson, National Journal Hotline

Republican voters in Virginia selected  George Allen to run against Tim Kaine for the U.S. Senate seat Tuesday, despite challenges from tea party leader Jamie Radtke and others. Meanwhile in Northern Virginia, Retired Col. Chris Perkins won the Republican nomination and will face Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) this fall.

Reid Wilson, editor-in-chief of the National Journal Hotline, talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about Virginia's primary elections.

Jamie Radtke's received 23 percent of the votes Tuesday. What does this mean for the tea party in Virginia? "I think the role of the tea party has been a little overstated over the last few years," says Wilson. "There was really no area in which George Allen was diametrically opposed to the tea party. Plus, with a couple other candidates in the race, there was really never a case for a real anti-Allen campaign to emerge. "

What the race between Allen and Kaine will ultimately come down to: "First of all, the presidential contest; whether or not Mitt Romney and President Obama can really open up a gap on each other ... People are going to be turning out for the presidential race, not necessarily for the Senate contest," says Wilson. "On the other hand it's also going to matter who wins the swing voters who are emerging in the state. These are mostly suburban women, people who voted for Obama in 2008 then turned around a year later and voted for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)."

On which Virginia congressional races to keep an eye on: "The 2nd District [currently held by] Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) is really the most competitive seat in the state right now. Gerry Connolly though, is a congressmen [in the 11th District] who is never going to have an easy race," says Wilson. "Over the long term, I would look to Rep. Frank Wolf's [10th district]. Wolf is not going to be in trouble this year. But if he ever decides to retire or to run for another office, that seat could be pretty competitive in the future."

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