James Henry Webb Jr. the Senior Senator from Virginia who narrowly won his seat from incumbent George Allen in 2006 has decided not to run for re-election in 2012. This is disappointing for Democrats as Webb has been an outspoken politician unencumbered by political influence. He has been a staunch moderate who votes his conscience.
Webb is also a writer and has published several books, many of them related to his military service. The movie Rules of Engagement was written and produced by Webb. His avocation as a writer allows him to exist outside public service and one gets the impression that he holds a certain disdain for politics. It was purported that he wanted to slug George W. Bush over his son’s deployment in the Iraq war.
So who will join Mark Warner as Virginia’s other Senator?
The most viable candidates consist of the current DNC Chair Tim Kaine, former Senator George Allen, and former 5th District Congressman Tom Perriello.
Perriello has poured a great deal of effort into his political reputation. Consequently, northern Virginia likes him a lot. He even polls well in Republican areas. Kaine, however, has the greater name recognition and could take the seat if he wants it. Allen; who it is thought to have lost his seat to Webb due to a racial slur could potentially get back in the race. Here is the latest polling:
- 58 percent of voters approve of the way Kaine handled his job as governor; 55 percent approve of Allen’s performance as a U.S. Senator.
- 57 percent of voters have a favourable impression of Kaine; 52 percent of Allen.
- Kaine leads in northern Virginia but trails among independents in the outer suburbs; Allen struggles with female and minority voters.
- Allen is far outpacing his GOP rivals. He had the support of 57 percent of Republicans. Tea Party Candidate Jamie Radke has just 2 percent.
- Kaine would, at this point, also make short work of other Democratic challengers.
But Virginia is an enigma. The area around Washington DC is quite democratic but the rest of the state may as well be as red as Tennessee. Currently both Senators are Democrats. Could that change in 2012? Difficult to tell.
Perriello is the former representative of Virginia’s 5th District. He grew up in an unincorporated town of Ivy just west of Charlottesville. He has been an advocate of justice in African countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. He has a J.D. from Yale University. Periello lost his congressional seat to Republican State Senator Robert Hurt in 2010 (there was an independent on the ballot as well).
But don’t count George Allen out just yet. Allen, the son of famed NFL coach George Allen was previously a Senator and Governor of Virginia. He looks to want the Senate seat back. Democrats will have to fight hard to keep this senate seat.
Here are the seats up for grabs:
- Retiring Democrats
- Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (I)
- Kent Conrad of North Dakota
- Jim Webb of Virginia
- Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
- Retiring Republicans
- Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
- Jon Kyl of Arizona
- Democratic incumbents who may seek re-election:
- Dianne Feinstein of California
- Tom Carper of Delaware
- Bill Nelson of Florida
- Daniel Akaka of Hawaii
- Ben Cardin of Maryland
- Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
- Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
- Claire McCaskill of Missouri
- Jon Tester of Montana
- Ben Nelson of Nebraska
- Bob Menendez of New Jersey
- Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
- Sherrod Brown of Ohio
- Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania
- Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island
- Bernie Sanders of Vermont (I)
- Maria Cantwell of Washington
- Joe Manchin of West Virginia
- Herb Kohl of Wisconsin
- Republican incumbents who may seek re-election:
- Richard Lugar of Indiana
- Olympia Snowe of Maine
- Scott Brown of Massachusetts
- Roger Wicker of Mississippi
- John Ensign of Nevada
- Bob Corker of Tennessee
- Orrin Hatch of Utah
- John Barrasso of Wyoming
Feel free to throw your predictions into the ring, particularly if you live in any of these states.
- Former DNC chairman Tim Kaine says Rep. Weiner should resign (thehill.com)
- VA-Sen: Tim Kaine is in the race (dailykos.com)
- Tim Kaine Announces 2012 Senate Run (huffingtonpost.com)
- Democratic Party Chair Kaine to Run for Senate in Virginia (businessweek.com)
- Tim Kaine to Run for Va. Senate Seat (blogs.wsj.com)
- Tim Kaine Announces Senate Run in Virginia (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)