Virginia's George Allen Typifies GOP's 2012 Recruiting Problems

The statewide candidates seem to always be a joke.


Where are the Republican candidates? I am not just talking about presidential candidates, but statewide candidates as well.

[Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.]

In Virginia former Sen. George Allen is the likely Republican nominee to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb. Webb didn’t beat Allen six years ago so much as Allen lost--and lost bad. The Democrats recruited their top choice, former Gov. Tim Kaine, who also served until recently as DNC chairman. 

A recent poll by the Washington Post shows this race to be a virtual dead heat. That’s understandable.  Kaine was relatively popular, if not the greatest governor. He solidified his stature with his handling of the Virginia Tech massacre. Having covered him in Richmond when he was lieutenant governor, I can add he is actually a decent human being--a rare quality in politicians these days. 

But Kaine is, at the end of the day, a Democrat. He may not be a liberal in the mold of Sen. Barbara Boxer, but he will still vote to raise taxes, increase government services, and carry almost any amount of water Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asks him to. 

Republicans therefore have a real chance to take back a seat Allen should never have lost in the first place. So why on earth are they likely to nominate Allen? No need to rehash why he lost. Unless someone was under a rock they remember all too well the video mishap with a Webb supporter. If he is the nominee, expect to see the footage return from the archives. We will likely to be subjected to it again, and again, and again.

Yes Allen is a conservative. He had a successful run as governor of Virginia, but his one term in the Senate was lackluster at best and an embarrassment at worst. Nominating him, and then voting for him, is a signal Virginia can’t do better and will settle for a has-been.

[Vote now: Who is your pick for the 2012 GOP nomination?]

Instead of nominating Allen, or even worse the Tea Party candidate who is challenging him, Republicans should encourage someone who is conservative enough to win statewide, but pragmatic enough to carry the all important Northern Virginia region. Former Rep. Tom Davis would be an excellent choice. He has expressed an interest in the past, but it’s possible he is enjoying private life more than he imagined. Can’t say I blame him.

But Davis, or someone like him, is what the Republican Party needs: A candidate who will work with the right, but not shun the left; a candidate who will not be an embarrassment to the state, but rather someone who will work for the entire state and not just the donors.   

The last time Kaine ran statewide was in 2005 for governor. I voted for him because his opponent was patently anti-Catholic. This time, if his opponent is Allen, I will likely resort to writing in my brother’s name (again), because for a state that is solidly Republican, the statewide candidates seem to always be a joke.  And we wonder why nothing ever gets done in Washington?

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