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Posted at 1:57 PM ET, 06/14/2010

Perriello gets his challenger

By Peter Galuszka

Without a doubt, the most important race to watch in Virginia this year is that for Rep. Tom Perriello's seat in the 5th Congressional District, which stretches from the affluent university town of Charlottesville to the hardscrabble furniture and tobacco areas of Southside.

Something about Democrat Perriello has aroused a visceral hatred among the conservative anti-Barack Obama and anti-Nancy Pelosi crowd. It seems to go beyond the fact that Perriello has voted steadfastly for stimulus and health-care legislation and other Obama initiatives.

He looms large in the cross hairs of the Tea Party movement, and his family has suffered as a consequence. In March, a Tea Party Web site confused Perriello's home address with that of his brother; the brother's property was vandalized and the gas line to his outdoor grill was cut. The FBI is investigating.

The latest wrinkle is that State Sen. Robert Hurt, a Chatham lawyer, won a crowded, tightly contested primary to become Perriello's Republican challenger this November. Hurt, who is a substantive and sane individual, will offer Perriello a big challenge.

But Hurt isn't immune from the radical right. Some Tea Party types say that even Hurt isn't conservative enough, whatever that means.

The more they stir the pot, the better Perriello's chances become. As the recent issue of the Economist magazine points out, too much meddling by amorphous and ill-defined Tea Party types will mark the GOP as a party bereft of ideas and solutions. That could drain momentum from efforts to capitalize on Obama's rising unpopularity.

And that could prop up Perriello.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | June 14, 2010; 1:57 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy, education, energy, environment, health care, taxes, transportation  
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