Both presumptive nominees have a lot of baggage. But while Allen is dragging his behind him, Kaine's baggage is out front -- waiting for him to trip over it.
Virginia voters are familiar with Allen's widely publicized use of the term "macaca" ("monkey") to describe an Indian-American Webb volunteer caught videotaping one of Allen's 2006 campaign appearances.
The gaffe torpedoed Allen's 13-point lead and was blamed for his narrow loss to Webb. Allen apologized and says he's learned a valuable lesson from the humiliating defeat.
A recent Washington Post poll found that 78 percent of voters do not consider "macaca" a significant factor early in the now dead-even race.
In contrast, one of Kaine's top "accomplishments" as governor is about to blow up in vote-rich Northern Virginia. It was Kaine who handed over the paid-for, revenue-producing Dulles Toll Road to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority without bothering to ask the General Assembly for its approval.
Thanks to Kaine, Dulles Toll Road commuters are now facing steeply escalating tolls that will reach as high as $10 one way by 2020.
Thanks to Kaine, this targeted group of Northern Virginians will wind up paying more than half of the still-rising construction and financing costs of Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail project. No other mega-transit project in the country relies on such an unfair funding mechanism.
And thanks to Kaine, neither Dulles Toll Road users, nor their elected representatives in Richmond, had any say in this $3.5 billion boondoggle. Nor do they have recourse at the ballot box, since MWAA's appointed board members cannot be voted out of office.
But wait, there are more reasons why Dulles Rail is quickly turning into Kaine's Katastrophe:
* A pending federal lawsuit challenges Kaine's 2006 toll road giveaway, which conferred taxing power on unelected MWAA board members in apparent violation of the federal and state constitutions.
* Even longtime Dulles Rail supporters now question MWAA's management. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, introduced legislation that would increase Virginia's representation on the 13-member MWAA board and has demanded a federal audit of the project.
* Supervisors in Fairfax and Loudoun counties are balking at MWAA's decision to increase construction costs by building an underground airport station, and increase labor costs with a project labor agreement that will steer most of the project's construction jobs to non-Virginians. Kaine appointee Dennis Martire voted for the PLA despite his obvious conflict of interest as a labor union vice president.
* Things are so bad that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood felt compelled to intervene, offering to personally mediate the increasingly bitter feud between MWAA and state and local shareholders over the project's ballooning price tag.
* MWAA Chairman Charles Snelling has refused multiple requests from the Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee, comprised of top local and state elected officials, to discuss these controversial issues.
From the initial no-bid contract to a consortium that includes the same company responsible for Boston's notorious "Big Dig" to the Federal Transit Administration's concerns that MWAA has no experience managing complex transportation projects to the current imbroglio over astronomical toll increases, Dulles Rail "had more red flags than a bull-fighting ring," says transportation expert Ken Orski.
In fact, there were so many early warning signs that this megaproject would go off the rails that Kaine should have spotted them a long time ago. But he ignored them all.
Barbara F. Hollingsworth is The Examiner's local opinion editor.