Ronald Reagan once said that ‚??there are second acts in politics‚?Ě and George Allen took the first step Tuesday night toward his own ‚??second act.‚?Ě Six years after he lost his Senate seat in one of the closest Senate races in the country, conservative Republican Allen won handily over three opponents for another Senate race. Now the 60-year-old Allen faces former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee, to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. (and 2006 winner) Jim Webb.
Allen‚??s next step is to become the first senator defeated for re-election who came back to the Senate since Republican Slade Gorton of Washington State, who was ousted in 1986 but came back in 1988 and served two full terms. The last Democratic senator to achieve this feat was Ohio‚??s Howard Metzenbaum, defeated for renomination by John Glenn in 1974 but returned to the Senate in 1976 over Republican Sen. Bob Taft.
Unlike other defeated office-holders, Allen has remained an active campaigner and speaker for his party. He was very active in the 2010 upset election of Republican Morgan Griffith over 28-year Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher in Virginia‚??s 9th District. Mary Stafford, campaign operative and later staffer for Griffith, recalled: ‚??We love George Allen out here.‚?Ě Allen also worked hard for Republican candidates for all three statewide offices in the Old Dominion in 2009 — all of whom won easily.
At a time when Barack Obama seems increasingly unlikely to again carry the state that he became the first Democrat in 44 years to carry in 2008, Kaine will most likely have to play defense for being one of his party‚??s first office-holders to endorse the current president four years ago and for later serving as Democratic National Chairman. A just-released Rasmussen poll showed the race a near-tie: Kaine 46 percent, Allen 44 percent.