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A US Senate Candidate Primer

By Greg L | 24 May 2012 | Virginia Politics, US Senate | 7 Comments

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.



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7 Comments

  1. Citizen-Veteran said on 24 May 2012 at 10:51 pm:
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    Impressive assessment!

  2. Robert L. Duecaster said on 25 May 2012 at 8:58 am:
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    You’re probably right, Greg (as usual), but I’m still going to back Mr. Marshall as the best choice for anyone in the ABA camp (Anyone but Allen). More than anyone else, Allen is responsible for Senate control going back to the Pervertocrats with his display of utter stupidity and unmitigated hubris. The man should be mucking out stalls instead of running for office, if only to learn some humility. What’s he been doing to earn his keep the last several years, anyway? What’s he ever done, for that matter? Maybe its just my knee-jerk disdain for frat boys, but I’d sooner leak on his faux cowboy boots than pull a lever for him.

  3. GOP said on 25 May 2012 at 9:05 am:
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    My vote has already gone to Allen in the Senate race and Perkins in the 11th race. It’s been nothing but amateur hour in DC for the last 4 years and now it’s time for experienced, capable and trustworthy folks to reign in the mess. I strongly urge all Virginia voters to choose George Allen and voters in the 11th to choose Chris Perkins!!

  4. Simon Oliver Lockwood said on 25 May 2012 at 11:09 am:
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    Marshall killed any chance he had with me when he sponsored that “Get out of Gitmo Free by Claiming You’re a Citizen” bill. Jihadi terrorists captured overseas should not have the protection of constitutional rights intended for those accused of domestic criminal activity - even if they claim American citizenship. Furthermore, purporting to prohibit Virginia Guardsmen from cooperating with detention of those terrorists raises so many federalism and chain-of-command problems that it calls into doubt his real understanding of the constitution.

    Allen has my vote. He’s not a dream candidate but he’s the best alternative among who’s on the ballot.

  5. G Man said on 25 May 2012 at 12:16 pm:
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    The last debate is tonight, and it is in Northern VA. Starts at 6:30. Here is a link to watch it live:

    http://bearingdrift.com/2012/05/25/last-republican-debate-tonight-kaine-gop-debate-tour-continues/

  6. DJR said on 25 May 2012 at 12:19 pm:
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    Allen has the best chance of beating Tim Kaine in the general election and Kaine MUST NOT be elected.

    If Marshall or Radtke were the nominee, Kaine would take well over 60% of the vote.

    Jackson might have more of a chance this year than almost any other. First, Kaine is a horrible choice. Second, insiders are under siege. Third, the combination of Marine, preacher, inner-city humanitarian, conservative could be very compelling to the voters in the ideological middle.

  7. Peter Sperry said on 26 May 2012 at 10:17 am:
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    Radtke or Marshall would motivate the Democrat base in a way that even Allen does not. The Dem margin in NOVA would increase from 55 percent to 60 percent and from 50 percent to 55 percent in the rest of the golden crescent. We would be scrambling hard to make up the difference in the rest of the state. Unfortunately, the reverse coattails from increased D turnout would also cost us Virginia’s electoral votes; without which Romney cannot win and Obama gets four more years. In an Allen vs Kaine race, neither would inspire their own base or the opposition. It would be primarily a Romney vs Obama fight with the Senate being much more of an afterthought. Both sides would struggle to turn out their vote with the Dems facing more of an uphill fight to do that than we would. Dem margin in their strongholds could drop 3-8 percent due to lack of enthusiasm. If we can get 90-95 percent of the voters who came out for us in 09 & 10 to turnout again, we should be able to carry the state for both Allen and Romney. Any R turnout above that would put us in landslide territory.

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