Kaine, Allen battle to the wire in bitterly contested Senate race

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Photo - Democratic candidate Tim Kaine and Republican candidate George Allen face off in a debate for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat on Sept. 20, 2012. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
Democratic candidate Tim Kaine and Republican candidate George Allen face off in a debate for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat on Sept. 20, 2012. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Democrat Tim Kaine made a last-minute appeal to Asian-Americans in Northern Virginia on Sunday, hoping to find new voters to carry him across the finish line in his tight U.S. Senate race against Republican George Allen.

Kaine held his final campaign rally Sunday at the Edens Center in Falls Church, an Asian-American business center where shoppers bustled in stores, Redskins fans flocked to sports bars to watch the game and women visited salons to get their hair done. Kaine shook hands and greeted patrons in a late display of retail politics that he hopes will expand his base at a time when candidates are on the hunt for any voter they can find.

Kaine is nursing a small lead in a marathon fight with Allen to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.

"Whether it's about the diversity in talent or our global connections or the strength of our small business community, I cannot think of a better place to stand for our last big rally before the big election," Kaine said. "This election is very important, and it's very close."

Allen, meanwhile, spent Sunday rallying supporters and volunteers in campaign offices across the critical battleground of Hampton Roads. Allen was supposed to spend part of the day with former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, but a last-minute schedule change resulted in the two just missing each other in Virginia Beach.

Santorum, well-liked by conservative voters, was in the region to gin up support with the base.

"Apparently there were some wires crossed," Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis said. "We certainly would have waited around."

Allen capped off the day with a joint appearance in Newport News with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Unlike four years ago, when President Obama's strength in Virginia caught people off guard, Romney and Republicans have built a substantial political machine they hope can match the Democratic ground game in the Old Dominion.

"The enthusiasm and momentum that we've seen for months on the campaign is coming together as one of the largest Republican volunteer efforts in Virginia history," Davis said.

The two former governors, who have been engaged in one of the nation's premiere Senate races for more than a year, will make the traditional fly-around the Monday before the election. This year, there will be quite a bit of star power joining them.

Kaine will appear with Sens. Webb and Mark Warner, D-Va., in Norfolk and later with Vice President Biden for stops in Sterling and Richmond, hitting all three major metro areas in one day.

Allen will campaign with Romney and Gov. Bob McDonnell in Lynchburg and Fairfax.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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