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Cantor Endorses Allen in Virginia Senate Race

Cantor Endorses Allen in Virginia Senate Race

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - August 15, 2011


Despite their differences over the deal to raise the national debt ceiling reached earlier this month, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday officially endorsed Republican George Allen in Virginia's Senate contest, calling the candidate a "proven, common-sense conservative."

The race in the battleground state is expected to be among the most expensive and high profile in the country. Fellow Old Dominion congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Morgan Griffith offered their support for Allen as well.

Cantor, a Richmond conservative who won applause from the Tea Party during the contentious battle over raising the government’s borrowing limit, chose Allen, a former governor, U.S. senator and congressman, over Tea Party rival Jamie Radtke. When asked about his reasoning on a conference call with reporters Monday morning, Cantor insisted Allen's views and record were in line with the concerns expressed by the members of the movement.

Allen, he said, “believes you’ve got to get the fiscal house in order in Washington, and we don’t need to be taking more money out of the pockets of people who earn it. I do think that the conservative electorate in the commonwealth of Virginia are used to the kind of leadership that George Allen has provided.”

Cantor also said Allen’s previous experience in the Senate, where he served one term before being defeated by Democrat Jim Webb in 2006, and as governor of the state qualifies him as “someone who gets jobs creation. If you compare that to what’s going on in Washington right now, with a White House and administration who just don’t seem to get it, I think you will see conservatives rally behind George Allen.”

While in the Senate, Allen voted four times to raise the debt ceiling, characterizing it as a responsible action. But when Congress reached an agreement earlier this month to raise the borrowing limit, Allen called it an “eleventh hour deal” that “fails to address the country’s serious fiscal problems, has no concrete Balanced Budget Amendment, punts the tough decisions to yet another commission while adding nearly a trillion dollars more to our nation’s debt as they deliberate.”

When asked about supporting a candidate who did not back the deal, Cantor said, as he has before, that the agreement wasn’t perfect. “It is simply a down payment,” he explained. Goodlatte chimed in: “I think if Senator Allen wants to do more, we fully agree with him. We want to do more as well. The question on the debt ceiling vote was: What could be accomplished at that point in time with the strongest interest in spending cuts we are getting from the president of the United States and the United State Senate? This is going to be a long drawn-out battle . . . and Senator Allen is fully committed to that, and I look forward to having him in the Senate.”

If Allen wins the GOP nod, he will likely face another former governor, Democrat Tim Kaine, in the race for the seat held by the retiring Webb. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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