Governor Bob McDonnell heaped praise Monday on George Allen as the two campaigned together the day before Tuesday’s GOP primary. “This is a man who was, I believe, the greatest reform governor of the modern era in Virginia,” said McDonnell alongside Allen to a crowd of Republicans gathered at Prototype Productions Incorporated, a small business just north of Dulles International Airport, touting the latter’s own record as governor on jobs and innovation.
Allen served as Virginia’s governor from 1994 to 1998 and later as a U.S. senator from 2001 to 2007. He lost his reelection bid in 2006 to Democrat Jim Webb in a close race.
McDonnell, who won his 2009 race for governor by 17 points, explained to reporters that 2006, the year Allen lost, was a “very, very bad year” for the GOP but that in more recent years, from 2009 through the 2010 mid-term elections (when Republicans gained three House seats), Virginia appears to be moving back toward the Republican column.
“We’re very bullish about this,” McDonnell said. “This is a much better year. The reaction to the big government entitlement society created by this president is significant in Virginia, and that’s why you’re going to see so many independents—the reason they voted for me is the same reason they’re going to vote for George Allen.”
McDonnell listed Allen’s gubernatorial achievements during the 1990s, from welfare reform to the high tech economic development in Northern Virginia. “An incredible record of change in Virginia for the better that we’re still getting the blessings of that today,” McDonnell said.
Allen will likely win Tuesday’s primary against Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke and state delegate Bob Marshall, though he says he hasn’t been taking any chances.
“The world’s controlled by those who show up,” Allen told reporters. “Regardless of the weather tomorrow, people need to show up.”
When asked about his expectations for the primary, Allen, whose father coached the Washington Redskins, cited the famous saying of the late owner of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis: “Just win, baby.”
If Allen wins the GOP nomination, he will face Tim Kaine, another former governor and the ex-chairman of the Democratic party. The general election race has earned a high profile due to the importance of the swing state for the presidential race and the implications the outcome would have on the partisan control of the Senate.
“Overall, the turnout in this election, which will be 70 percent plus, will be driven in good measure obviously by the Obama and Romney election,” McDonnell said. “So in some measure, certainly the Allen-Kaine outcome will be determined by how well Romney does in Virginia.”
But speaking to the crowd, McDonnell didn’t minimize how tough the Senate race will be for the GOP. “We have a tremendous challenge in the next 150 days,” he said.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal similarly discussed the connections between the Senate and presidential races:
George Allen is poised to win Tuesday's GOP Senate primary in Virginia and move on to a fierce general-election fight with echoes of the presidential contest, as he goes up against a strong supporter of President Barack Obama.
A win on Tuesday would pit Mr. Allen, a former governor and senator trying to make a political comeback after a gaffe in a 2006 Senate race, against Tim Kaine, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.
Mr. Kaine, who faces no primary opponents, enjoyed widespread support as Virginia's governor from 2006 to 2010, helped Mr. Obama carry the state in 2008 and is narrowly leading in the polls. A recent Rasmussen poll showed him with support from 46% of voters in a general-election race, compared with 44% for Mr. Allen. A Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Kaine up 44% to 43%, and Mr. Obama leading Mitt Romney in Virginia 47% to 42%.