The former Governor and Senator is once again becoming a force in Virginia politics:
It has been three years since Allen’s now-infamous campaign trail stumble that stirred racial tensions in Virginia and undercut a political arc that was headed for a run at the White House. Today, a humbled Allen is stepping back into the spotlight, prompting speculation that he is trying to rehabilitate his image in the hopes of making a comeback.
Allen has started the American Energy Freedom Center, a conservative think tank, and made appearances on talk radio and cable television to decry “cap and trade” legislation that would curb greenhouse gas emissions. He is penning a book, “The Triumph of Character: What Washington Can Learn From the World of Sports.” And he is popping up at events across the state, rallying support and money for GOP candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Robert F. McDonnell.
Allen, who narrowly lost reelection to the Senate in 2006 to Sen. James Webb (D), said in a recent interview that he has not ruled out another run for office. Magnetic and folksy, and with a distinguished record as governor that included popular criminal justice, education and welfare reforms, he has the pedigree that would make him a natural choice for higher office.
Allen said he has spent “not a scintilla of time” pondering whether to run for the Senate again. But he is campaigning regularly on behalf of McDonnell, who as state attorney general was among the first to issue a statement supportive of Allen after his 2006 defeat.
A spokesman for McDonnell described Allen as a personal friend who plays an “informal” role in the campaign. On a recent afternoon, at McDonnell’s request, Allen spoke with a group of undecided Northern Virginia businessmen at a Tysons Corner hotel to try to persuade them to support the former attorney general. Allen’s wife, Susan, has appeared at GOP events this year and is a member of “Women for McDonnell.”
Friends and supporters say Allen still enjoys a deep well of support in the community, particularly among Republicans. As the GOP tries to recover from recent defeats in Virginia and beyond, many think fondly of his come-from-behind gubernatorial victory in 1993, when a Democrat occupied the White House and after three successive Democratic governors.
“At the end of the day, Virginians love men of action,” said Alexandra Liddy Bourne, who served in Allen’s administration and is executive director of his think tank. “His mistakes are forgiven. We are way past them. We have saddled up, and we’re going forward.”
Going forward…….by reaching back into the past.
Yea, that makes sense.
Let me be blunt about it. George Allen lost a race that he should have won, and it wasn’t just because of the now-infamous “macaca moment”:
First of all, Allen ran an appallingly bad campaign. It started with the admittedly over-hyped macaca controversy and continued into the final weeks of the campaign with the exceedingly stupid obsession of the Allen campaign and its allies over certain explicit passages from Webb’s novels. In an ordinary year, things like this wouldn’t have amounted to anything; in a year when the President’s approval ratings are in the basement, it just served to reinforce negative feelings that the electorate already had.
Second, the Allen-Webb campaign just serves to reinforce an argument I made in the aftermath of last year’s Gubernatorial election; Virginia is no longer the solid-red state that it was assumed to be from 1964 onward. The most-populated and fastest-growing counties in the state (Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, Prince William) all went for Webb. All of these counties are in Northern Virginia and, combined, they gave Webb a total of nearly 340,000 votes. Judging by the map, Allen won more counties, but Webb won where it counted.
Finally, I’ve just got to say it, previously-stated Presidential aspirations notwithstanding, George Allen really wasn’t all that great. He calls himself a Jeffersonian conservative (leaving aside the fact that Thomas Jefferson was anything but a conservative), but he never seemed all that committed to individual liberty. Like his mentor, John Warner, he seemed more concerned with bringing home the pork to the Old Dominion and being the loyal Republican.
George Allen seems to be benefiting from the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” idea. But, if they think about it for a few minutes, Virginia Republicans should realize that he really wasn’t that great after all.