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With Primary Done, George Allen Gears Up For Tight Senate Race

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Former U.S. Sen. George Allen and his wife, Susan, speak to the crowd as he celebrates a Republican primary win in Richmond Tuesday.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former U.S. Sen. George Allen and his wife, Susan, speak to the crowd as he celebrates a Republican primary win in Richmond Tuesday.

Virginia Republicans decided to give former Sen. George Allen (R) another shot at representing the state in the U.S. Senate yesterday, making him the party's candidate for the seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Webb (D) after just one term. The race will pit Allen against former Gov. Tim Kaine (D). 

Pundits once lauded Allen as a potential presidential contender, but his fall from grace was swift after a video circulated of him allegedly directing a racial slur toward an Indian American. Now infamous, that  "macaca" moment is believed to have cost him the Virginia Senate race six years ago. 

But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is expecting Allen to be a different candidate this time around.

"I think he would admit, rather than focusing on his reelection to the Senate, had his eyes set a little higher on the political totem pole," Cornyn says of Allen's last run. "But clearly now he's been working hard and doing a very good job running for the Senate."

The Allen campaign has aggressively sought to link his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, to the policies of President Obama. But Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) believes that strategy is flawed. Moran says the popularity of the president in the populated suburbs of Washington will be the key to victories for both the president and for Kaine. 

"If we maximize our vote in Northern Virginia and in Tidewater, Obama wins and it probably ensures he wins the presidency," Moran says. "And it will put Tim Kaine over the top, so that he will hopefully join a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate."

But Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate races for the Cook Political Report, believes the outcome of the race won't hinge on the party's standard bearers alone. 

"And while certainly party matters, I think that these candidates are going to spend a lot of time talking about their records and more importantly their opponents' records," she says. 

With both parties battling for control of the Senate this fall, Virginia will likely attract national attention, and that means national dollars, adds Duffy. 

"But I think this race is just going to be a magnet for outside spending," Duffy says. "So, in addition to both candidates and the political parties, I think you're going to see a lot of Super PAC activity here. I think it could break records here." 

For months, polls have focused on the Kaine-Allen Senate matchup and the majority of the results show one common thread: the race is way too close to call


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