Kaine, Allen look for friendly ground in Virginia

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Blue markers indicate Kaine stops; red markers show Allen stops

Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Virginia's U.S. Senate candidates have campaigned aggressively in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads over the last month as the two campaigns court coveted independent voters in swing districts.

Kaine and Allen will square off in their second televised debate Monday in Richmond -- a rare, 60-minute break from meetings with voters, business leaders and volunteers. According to a Washington Examiner review of campaign schedules, Kaine and Allen have made a total of 90 public appearances in the 37 days since Sept. 1, ranging from barbecues and parades to roundtable discussions and gymnasium rallies.

Kaine, who most polls show leading the race, has made 56 appearances -- not including private meetings with campaign contributors or staff -- compared with Allen's 34 appearances since Labor Day. Kaine made three times as many stops as Allen in Northern Virginia and twice as many in Hampton Roads, the state's most populous regions.

Virginia Senate debate
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Richmond
Host: AARP, League of Women Voters Virginia, WVCE-radio and WTVR-TV
The debate will be televised statewide, including by C-SPAN. Check local listings for coverage or go towtvr.com for a livestream.

But Kaine also spent several days behind enemy lines in rural southwest Virginia, an Allen stronghold where even many Democrats are pro-gun and pro-life.

"We are traveling everywhere in the commonwealth to make our case. I think that's important," said Mo Elleithee, a senior adviser to Kaine. "It says a lot about Tim Kaine's style and approach."

Allen, meanwhile, hasn't been west of Lynchburg since before Sept. 1, though his campaign said he has stops planned out that way next week. Besides Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, Allen stuck to reliably Republican turf, like suburban Richmond, where he needs to turn out voters to offset the Democratic advantage in populous Fairfax County.

Allen's campaign dismisses as irrelevant the fact that Kaine has made so many more appearances than Allen since Labor Day.

"Between Susan Allen and Gov. Allen, we were counting well over 700 campaign stops for this election cycle," spokeswoman Emily Davis said. "We're continuing to work around the clock."

Five weeks out from Election Day, both candidates are spending much of their time in the D.C. suburbs and Hampton Roads, the state's most influential areas, said Chris Perkins, a Republican campaign strategist for WPA Opinion Research.

Kaine is traveling to potential tossup counties, like the outer suburbs of Loudoun and Prince William, to talk about small businesses and women's health issues. Allen is traveling throughout the region, talking about looming defense cuts that would destroy Northern Virginia's government-reliant economy.

"Usually around this time is when the candidates, especially in Senate races, travel to where they can build on their support," Perkins said. "You're going to see Kaine and Allen spending a lot of time in the same areas for the next three weeks and then, come the last week, Allen will go to the hard-core red areas [to focus on voter] turnout. And Kaine is going to do the same in blue areas."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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