Will Dem Challengers Keep Allen at Home?
Even though Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) appears to be headed toward a more competitive-than-expected reelection race in November, he continues to visit states that will play a key role in the 2008 election.
Allen will make a stop in Iowa on March 17 and 18th for a pair of fundraisers for the Iowa Republican Party. On St. Patrick's Day, Allen will be in Cedar Falls for an evening event at the Park Place Event Center. The following day Allen will be at the Radisson in Davenport for a breakfast fundraiser to benefit "Victory 2006," according to the invite obtained by The Fix. For $500, an individuals gets two tickets to the coffee reception, a table of 10 for the breakfast and a photo-op with the senator.
The question before Allen is how much of a national schedule will he be able to keep without endangering his chances of winning reelection in the fall?
Dick Wadhams, Allen's chief of staff, said that the vast majority of Allen's out-of-state visits are aimed at raising money for the reelection campaign. "He is not a self-financing multimillionaire like our two Democratic opponents," Wadhams said.
Both Harris Miller, former head of a technology industry association, and James Webb, former secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and noted author of thrillers, are running for the Democratic nomination. Miller has considerable financial resources and has pledged to give a dollar from his own pocket for every two dollars donated to his campaign by individuals. The two men will face off in a June 13 primary.
Mo Elleithee, a consultant to Miller's campaign, said Allen's travels outside of Virginia will be a major issue during the campaign. "People want a full-time senator," he said. "It's pretty clear that [Allen] is not."
Steve Jarding, who is advising Webb, said he expects Virginia voters to be skeptical of Allen's pledge that he wants to continue to serve in the Senate. "When he is telling you that he wants to represent you, it's with a bit of a wink and a nod because he is in Iowa and New Hampshire," said Jarding. "I guess he thinks he can run for the Senate from Iowa."
Wadhams said Allen only accepts one in every 20 speaking invitations that he receives, and he noted that Allen traveled the country during the 2004 cycle as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Republicans picked up four Senate seats, leading Wadhams to conclude that "the fruits of that work on issues that Virginians care about has come to fruition in the Senate."
It remains to be seen how active a national schedule Allen can or will choose to keep as he stumps for a second Senate term. What is clear is that the candidacies of Webb and Miller complicate Allen's unencumbered run for the presidency, which seemed like such a sure thing just six months ago.
(One interesting note on the Miller-Webb primary: The consultant team that helped elected Virginia Gov. Mark Warner in 2001 is splitting between the two Senate hopefuls. A portion of that team, including pollster Geoff Garin and Elleithee, is with Miller. Jarding has sided with Webb, and we hear that Webb has picked GMMB as his media consultant -- the same firm that did Warner's ads in 2001. Jarding said the full consultant team will be announced next week in Richmond.)
March 3, 2006; 1:53 PM ET
Categories: Eye on 2008 , Senate
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