George Allen's Withdrawal

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George Allen, as I am writing, is delivering a graceful concession speech. Under Virginia law, he was entitled to a state-financed recount of his 7,000-vote loss, a recount that would have lasted into December and that would have at least left open the question of whether Democrats would have a Senate majority. In this, he follows the tradition of good losers, like Richard Nixon, who in 1960 declined to challenge the presidential vote in Illinois and other states. Eight years later, he was elected president. Allen's problems in the 2006 campaign obviously destroyed any chance he had to run for president. His graceful withdrawal, however, leaves him other options. Introducing him in Old Town Alexandria was his colleague John Warner, whose term expires in 2008, when he will be 81. Warner may choose to retire then, after 30 years in the Senate. If so, it looks to me that Allen has positioned himself to be a serious candidate for the seat. This has happened before: Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington State lost for re-election in 1986 but came back in 1988 and won the state's other Senate seat, which he won again in 1994 and lost by only a very narrow margin in 2000.