ASHBURN, Va. -- Virginia voters on Tuesday will choose a Republican U.S. Senate challenger to face Democrat Tim Kaine this fall and sort out a pair of Northern Virginia congressional contests.
Republican George Allen, a former governor and one-term senator running to regain the seat he lost in 2006, is heavily favored in the Republican Senate primary, and on Monday Allen was already looking past his three primary challengers and ahead to November.
Allen made a campaign stop in Loudoun County on the election's eve, flanked by Gov. Bob McDonnell and a handful of Republican lawmakers, pleading for a strong turnout Tuesday not just to ensure victory but to signal to Democrats that his campaign has momentum.
|Polls are open statewide from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.|
"The bigger the vote, the bigger the turnout, the stronger the message," Allen said, referring to Kaine as "my opponent."
Some Northern Virginia voters also could weigh in Tuesday on two congressional primaries. Democratic Rep. Jim Moran faces a primary challenge from former Navy pilot Bruce Shuttleworth in the eighth District. Two Republicans, retired Army Col. Chris Perkins and engineer Ken Vaughn, are vying for the chance to take on Rep. Gerry Connolly for his 11th District seat in November.
Allen's appearance in Northern Virginia on Monday was exactly the kind of event that has his opponents charging that he is an establishment figure unlikely to bring badly needed change to Washington.
"[Voters] simply are not accepting business as usual," said Chesapeake pastor E.W. Jackson, one of Allen's challengers. "They're not being dictated to by the governor and the lieutenant governor, all due respect to them. They're going to follow their own judgment, their own heart."
But voters looking for an alternative to Allen have yet to coalesce around a single alternative. Opposition to Allen's candidacy is split between Jackson, Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke and Del. Bob Marshall, of Manassas, all running to the political right of Allen.SClB
An upset of Allen, though unlikely, would send shock waves through the Republican Party and jeopardize efforts to defeat Kaine and recapture the U.S. Senate.
Radtke, Allen's sharpest critic for more than a year, claims an influx of campaign cash that funded a late radio and television advertising blitz and her ability to tap supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul could greatly improve her chances.
"Similar to recent Tea Party-driven Republican primary upsets, we are surging into Election Day ... with rising poll numbers [and] endorsements from conservatives across the political spectrum," Radtke said.
Marshall admitted that with three candidates fighting Allen, it has been difficult for any one of them to gain traction. But one of them may have a chance if voter turnout is low, he said. Marshall pointed to Allen's hefty get-out-the-vote efforts as evidence that the front-runner fears a low turnout.
"If George feels he needs that," Marshall said, "it might be an indicator he's not on solid ground."