Monday, February 14, 2011

An Untethered Webb

The contest to replace Sen. Jim Webb is going to remain a national story from here on. The days of Virginia's politics being somewhat insulated from national politics are history.

Eventually, we could see a battle of former Virginia governors -- Democrat Tim Kaine (2005-09) vs. Republican George Allen (1993-97). Allen, who lost the seat to Webb in 2006, has already announced his candidacy. And, it's a sure thing that some Democrats in the commonwealth are telling Kaine that since he would be the strongest candidate, it's his duty to try to hold the seat for the Democratic Party.

Yet, there are good reasons to imagine other names on the ballot in November of 2012.

Kaine may not want the job. The prospect of dealing with six years of gridlock, due to the Senate's arcane and antiquated rules, might not appeal to a guy with other attractive employment options. Meanwhile, Kaine already has a decent job and it's possible he will have offers of other good jobs in the next year or so.

Some Democrats are already pushing to advance the idea that former congressman Tom Perriello would make a good candidate. However, his single term in office may not have done all that much to impress voters outside the boundaries of the 5th District, which he represented for two years.

Is Terry McAuliffe focused only on a gubernatorial run in 2013? Would Rep. Bobby Scott consider leaving his relatively secure position as Virginia's 3rd District representative in the House?

Allen, who many voters must see as damaged goods, may not secure the nomination. It says here that most of the early enthusiasm behind his effort to win back his old seat in the Senate stems from the easy notion that with his name recognition factor he would be the GOP's strongest candidate.

Well, Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke begs to differ. She has already announced her intention to run in the Republican nominating primary next summer. Other Republicans can be expected to do the same. Don't be surprised to see a half-dozen of them come out of the woodwork.

Moreover, if Virginia's lean-and-hungry attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, decides he'd prefer to cash in his still burgeoning celebrity status to run for the Senate -- rather than wait a long year, to run for governor -- it's hard to imagine another Republican beating him. At least, that's the case at this writing.

Then there is this intriguing factor to consider:

With Webb out of the picture as a candidate, he will be more free than ever to do as he pleases. The already rather independent Webb will be in office until January of 2013.

A Jim Webb untethered to concerns for his reelection might enjoy making some news over the course of the next year to provide an interesting/unexpected backdrop for what promises to be a wide open nomination race in both parties.


James Young said...

"[F]ormer congressman Tom Perriello['s] ... single term in office may not have done all that much to impress voters outside the boundaries of the 5th District, which he represented for two years."

Apparently, it didn't do all that much to impress voters INside the boundaries of the 5ht District.

Catzmaw said...

Completely off-base on Perriello. He was a liberal Democrat who took the House seat in a conservative district and came within a hair's breadth of taking the seat again in a year dominated by GOP gains and Tea Party rage. He'd be a very formidable opponent.

Think Cuccinelli will run? Oh please, please do. Let him. That would certainly help Virginia, just by removing him from such a position of power. I'd love to see Perriello against him.

F.T. Rea said...

Catzmaw, Perriello may be a potentially strong candidate for statewide office. If that's true, it's good news to Democrats who live in Virginia.

My point was that he hasn't been around long enough -- one term -- for people outside of his district, who don't follow politics closely, to know him and trust him.

At this point I certainly haven't passed judgment on his ability to overcome that obstacle.