George Allen will get his chance to win back the Senate seat he lost to Jim Webb in 2006. Allen, also a former Virginia governor, won the Republican primary. With just under 78 percent of precincts reporting, Allen is winning 65 percent of the vote to Jamie Radtke’s 24 percent.
Radtke wasn’t the best funded Tea Party candidate in the country and Allen’s disastrous campaign six years ago clearly didn’t cost him much support from Virginia conservatives. But the primary does show the limits to a conservative primary challenge based mainly on Bush-era deviations. Radtke famously said the Tea Party wouldn’t exist without the failures of Republicans under George W. Bush and she hit Allen for supporting earmarks, debt limit increases, No Child Left Behind, and Medicare Part D.
Paradoxically, Allen probably benefited from the half dozen years out of office. Otherwise, it would have been easier for Ratke to paint him as an entitled incumbent like Richard Lugar. In any event, Webb is retiring after only one term and Allen will face off against fellow former Gov. Tim Kaine. The polling between Allen and Kaine has been tight, and the race may come down to which presidential candidate carries Virginia in November.