Could Tom Perriello run for Senate?
Will Tom Perriello be on the ballot again in 2012?
That's a question to ponder in Virginia, two weeks after the freshman Democrat lost his reelection bid in the 5th Congressional District to state Sen. Robert Hurt (R). Though he lost, Perriello did well enough -- earning 47 percent of the vote in a very tough year for Democrats -- and ran an energetic enough campaign that many in his party hope the 36-year-old will run for office again.
But when, and where? Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) is up for reelection in 2012, and as The Fix notes, a new poll shows Webb performing well in matchups against his likeliest opponent - former senator George Allen (R) -- as well as Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) and state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R). Two other potential Republican candidates, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and Del. Bob Marshall (Prince William), were not tested.
The catch is that Webb hasn't said yet whether he will stand for reelection. If he doesn't run, former governor Tim Kaine (D) is the dream candidate for many Virginia Democrats, but there are other possibilities being floated -- including Perriello. That poll by PPP -- a Democratic-leaning firm that uses autodial technology to conduct its surveys -- also tested Perriello, and found him trailing Allen by 5 points, trailing Bolling by 1 point and leading Cuccinelli by 3 points. (The survey showed Kaine leading all three Republicans.)
Having represented the 5th district, which stretches from Charlottesville down to the North Carolina border, for just one term, Perriello is an unknown quantity to some Virginians. The PPP poll found that 22 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of him, 32 percent unfavorable and 46 percent were unsure. The theory behind a Perriello candidacy would be that he is the rare Democrat who could poll well in both the state's rural areas and its more liberal enclaves such as the Northern Virginia suburbs of D.C.
At least one Virginia resident thinks highly of Perriello -- Rep. Bobby Scott (D).
"Obviously he ended the campaign with a reputation as a man of principle," Scott said Thursday. "You don't get that reputation by accident. I think that reputation would help him in a statewide race."
Scott added that he had no particular insight into whether Webb would run for reelection, but said he always assumes incumbents are running until they say otherwise.
As for Perriello himself, a spokesman said the lame-duck lawmaker hasn't made any decisions yet about his future.
Soon after his election loss, he answered a question from the Daily Progress about what he would do next by saying: "I know it'll be service. It could be nonprofit. It could be public. Who knows? It's going to take me a while to figure all that out."
| November 18, 2010; 3:43 PM ET
Categories: Ben Pershing, Election 2012, George F. Allen, James Webb, Tom Perriello, U.S. Senate
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