Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has announced he won’t run for re-election in 2012, opening up a heated contest for a purple-state Senate seat.
Webb cited a desire to return to the private sector, where he’s done very well as an author and journalist. It looked as if he would have ended up running against his 2006 opponent, George Allen, once again in 2012. Allen was looking good in 2006 until he stunned audiences by shouting the magic word “MACACA!”, which caused a bolt of lightning to flash down from the heavens and transform him into a lost cause.
Allen is back on his feet and widely regarded as having a good chance of taking back Virginia. President Obama won Virginia in 2008, but he’s in bad shape now, running several points below his national poll numbers. It looks like Apollo Creed doesn’t want to climb back into the ring with Rocky for that rematch.
Democrat gurus sound relieved that Webb isn’t running for re-election, which seems odd, since he’s far from the most appalling member of his party in the Senate, and incumbents generally hold the high ground in re-election campaigns. The political pros must have access to some inside information that showed Webb crumbling against Allen, even though he’s currently ahead in most polls. Perhaps they regarded his ascendancy as owing too much to his status as a war-hero opponent of the Iraq War, and there won’t be much juice left in that narrative, four years after George Bush left the White House.
Webb was also something of a gadfly for the Obama-fied Democrat Party, a self-conscious “moderate” in a party that has sailed far beyond the furthest limits of moderation. He gave a lot of interviews where he grumbled about all the “warnings” his President and Party leadership ignored. He’s a purple guy from a deep blue party, who would be running for re-election in a state that appears to be turning red.
People who know him have been saying he didn’t like being a Senator – which, I must admit, makes me a little sorry to see him go. We need more Senators who remember what private life was like, and look forward to resuming it.
The Democrats are hoping to convince Tim Kaine, also a former governor of Virginia, to challenge George Allen for Webb’s vacated seat. Kaine has said he wasn’t interested in running, but if he doesn’t change his mind, they’ll have trouble finding another candidate of his stature. Fox News mentions Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye, but they both lost House seats in the 2010 midterm elections, and I wonder how excited Virginia voters will become about anyone who got buried in that landslide.
Jim Webb managed to get through four years and counting in the Senate without sending shirtless photos to women he picked up on the Internet. By the standards of today’s politicians, that ain’t half bad.