McDonnell Endorses George Allen in Virginia

McDonnell Endorses George Allen in Virginia

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - November 11, 2011

Virginia's popular governor, a GOP rising star, threw his weight behind George Allen in the Old Dominion's U.S. Senate race Friday, saying, "The eyes of the country will be on Virginia in 2012."

Gov. Bob McDonnell's formal endorsement of Allen, a gubernatorial predecessor, came in the form of a Web video emailed to supporters, in which he cites this week's local election that gave Republicans control of the state legislature. "Next year our sights are set on helping achieve a majority in the U.S. Senate," said McDonnell. "And Virginia once again will be at the forefront of that fight. The road ahead won't be easy, but things worth fighting for rarely are. George Allen will need all of our help. He has my support and I'm hoping he can count on yours as well."

Indeed, the Virginia race is considered the battle royale of next year's elections, as it features two prominent, vetted candidates with proven success at winning statewide. Allen is favored to win the Republican nod (the primary field also includes Tea Partier Jamie Radtke, businessman Tim Donner, minister E.W. Jackson and attorney David McCormick) for the seat he has held before. He lost it to Democrat Jim Webb by a few thousand votes in 2006, an election that put Democrats at the helm of both chambers. Webb is retiring at the end of his term, and former governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tim Kaine hopes to replace him. Allen (pictured) and Kaine have been campaigning against each other as if it were already the general election, and the expected race will be among the most competitive and expensive in the country.

A source close to the campaign told RCP that Allen "is looking forward to hitting the campaign trail with Governor McDonnell." 

The state will also be a tough battleground for President Obama, who in winning Virginia in 2008 became the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since Lyndon Johnson. But since then, voters have elected a Republican governor -- who now runs his party's governors association and is often considered a potential vice presidential pick -- replaced three Democratic congressmen with Republicans and just last week turned their state legislature red.

Allen and Kaine are virtually tied in the polls, and the race is expected to remain close. The candidates will go head-to-head in a debate next month. 

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

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