Back in 2006, Jim Webb (D-VA) was the winner in an election v. George Allen (R-VA) in what is widely believed to be the first election decided largely due to viral video posted on the internet – and we refer of course to the infamous “macaca” incident the destroyed a commanding lead enjoyed by Allen at one time. Allen is all but certain to run again, but Webb will not.
Allen is expected to have challengers for the Republican nomination to run for the seat Webb is abandoning, but is still considered by most to be an obvious front-runner. He is a former member of the key Senate Commerce Committee, where he almost invariably took a pro-business stance when one could be readily identified in broadcast and communications matters.
Tim Kaine, former governor of Virginia and current chair of the Democratic National Committee said, ““I had hoped that Senator Webb, having worked tirelessly to help elect him in 2006, would run for reelection and continue his service in the Senate. However, over the past decade, we’ve made major progress in turning Virginia from a solidly Republican state to a highly competitive one, including Senator Webb’s victory in 2006, Senator Warner’s victory in 2008 and President Obama’s historic victory in 2008. With the investments that President Obama and the Democratic Party will make in Virginia in 2012, I am confident that our party will hold on to this Senate seat in 2012.”
The thought is out there that Virginia offers a prime pick-up opportunity for the Republicans in 2012, particularly after it captured the governor’s job that Kaine was term-limited away from in 2009. But the Democrats had a string of success before that, as Kaine noted.
Kaine, in fact, could very well be in the mix. And according to Public Policy Polling surveys cited by political blog TalkingPointsMemo’s TPMDC, right now both Webb and Kaine would beat Allen, with Kaine enjoying the bigger lead, and both would do even better in test runs against other Virginia Republicans. The poll also found President Barack Obama beating possible candidates for the White House. Before swallowing those results whole, however, it should be mentioned that PPP is aligned with the Democrats.
A wealth of viable candidates, mixed opinions in the observing class and mixed results in the last few elections are perfect ingredients in the recipe for a 2012 battleground state.
RBR-TVBR observation: As Allen learned the hard way, every citizen with a cell phone has the potential to become an instant journalist. For those in the public eye, it means that one’s personal censor device needs to be functioning at a high level at all times. For broadcasters, it means a vast auxiliary staff of journalists is out there waiting to be tapped if you take pains to be in good stead with your regular audience.
In terms of campaign funding, it usually is not good to lose an incumbent – they almost invariably have better luck fund-raising than unknown challengers. But in this case, the incumbent was known to be a rather indifferent politician and may not have raised all that much, the challenger may well have lots of political experience and might do a lot better, and in the very purple state of Virginia, the national Democratic machinery can be expected to fight like a wildcat to save the seat. 2012 should be a bountiful political spending year in the Old Dominion.