On June 12th Virginia Republicans again return to the polls, this time to select a nominee for the US Senate election coming up in November. Not everyone who ends up on this site might have been following this contest as closely as I have, so for those readers here’s a quick primer on the candidates.
George Allen is trying to mount a comeback and reclaim the Senate seat he lost to Jim Webb four years ago. Allen’s loss that time was partly due to the ridiculous media over-hype of his “macacca” incident, and partly due to Allen having run just a poor campaign that year. Allen was trying to run for President and left his senate campaign on autopilot until it became clear he wasn’t getting anywhere in the crowded field that ultimately narrowed down to John McCain. Allen then proved that campaign couldn’t deal with anything off-script and utterly bungled how they tried to deal with Allen’s comments to a campaign tracker, leading him to narrowly lose to Webb. Allen’s Senate record isn’t bad, although it’s not great. George Allen is your establishment Republican pick and has a hefty lead in the polls, as well as a campaign account that dwarfs his opponents.
Bob Marshall got into this race late but polls are showing him as the leading challenger to George Allen. Marshall is the only challenger with a record and any degree of legislative experience and it’s a tremendous (and fearless) record. Marshall has bucked his party when it was on the wrong track and won, as well as garnering some rather impressive legislative wins such as the passage of the Marriage Amendment and killing an unconstitutional taxing scheme in the Virginia Supreme Court. If you’re a strong social, fiscal and national security conservative you’d appreciate Bob Marshall a lot. Marshall’s impressive grasp of history, parliamentary procedure and the legislative process would cause absolutely huge headaches for liberal Democrats in the US Senate and he would be a fiercely dogged warrior dedicated to ending the practice of that body approving legislation it hasn’t read. If nothing else, watching him in the US Senate would be a whole lot of fun. He would make Harry Reid’s life utterly miserable.
Jaime Radtke is a long-time conservative activist whose most recent gig was leading the Richmond Tea Party and the Virginia Tea Party Federation. She has no elected experience at any level. Jaime spends about half of her time attacking George Allen, often with reason, and the other half talking about spending and debt. The policies she espouses are dead on for conservatives but she hasn’t been able to connect very well outside of small group environments. In debates she’s sometimes come across as a bit shrill and overly concerned with George Allen, but given where she is in the polls she might not really have any other choice than to go as negative as possible. Her dedication and commitment to the race is laudable, but I’ve always been left wondering why in the heck she thinks she ever had a chance to win it.
E. W. Jackson is a black (he would be extremely upset if I called him an African-American) preacher from the Hampton Roads area and is by far the most engaging and inspiring speaker of the bunch. A Marine, Harvard Law School grad and minister who works with at-risk inner city youth he is perhaps the most interesting political candidate I have ever encountered. Unfortunately without any experience as an elected official and a newcomer to the campaign game, he just hasn’t mastered how to run for a statewide office and have much chance of winning. Yet. More than anything else in this race it is my most fervent hope that Jackson stay engaged in politics and run for something else as soon as possible if he doesn’t win this race, which is pretty likely given what the polls are showing. I’d accept any outcome here if this was guaranteed. With some elected experience and the right campaign staff Jackson could easily be on a Ken Cuccinelli style trajectory and will quite possibly be one of the most fascinating national political figures of our time. He’s one to watch — and love.
My head on this is with Bob Marshall, my heart is with E. W. Jackson, but my gut tells me it’s going to be George Allen. Marshall is best prepared, intellectually and philosophically to deal with the challenges the Senate is going to have to tackle in the next decade. Jackson would show up and give that body a huge dose of heart, which it has sorely been lacking in the context of being so engaged in pure partisan struggling without any consideration of what it’s actually doing to the country, and would make some progress into shaming the body into being a servant of the people rather than a collection of petty tyrants. George Allen would be a generally conservative vote that wouldn’t get anyone terribly excited, but would also not disappoint conservatives as long as they stayed engaged with his office and made sure he understood what his votes meant. Radtke, if she somehow made it, would be a reliable conservative vote and a dedicated free markets warrior, probably delivering a better performance in this role than anyone we’ve seen from any Virginia Senator in the past fifty years.
They’re all good candidates and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. Just find the one who connects with you the most.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
Leave a Reply