If this conversation is any example, then George Allen had better get used to being a political pinata for the next year and a half.
For those going through wassail withdrawal, former Governor and US Senator George Allen apparently wants another shot at the office he lost in 2006. He is not alone in the regard, but the field arrayed before him is wide but not deep. Much of the debate apparently will be based on are you for or against Mr. Allen. Arguments to date arrayed against him include (but are not limited to):
1. Not conservative enough by 2012 GOP standards.
2. Was a great Governor, was a mediocre US Senator
3. Did not enjoy being a US Senator-wants the job only as a stepping stone or an ego sop
4. Permanently tainted by the “Macaca” incident
4a. Permanently tainted less by “Macaca” than by the way he and his staff handled the incident and the ongoing media feeding frenzy that followed
5. Reputation for hiring bad to inadequate staff
6. Perception of being racist
7. Perception of not being comfortable with himself (“good old boy from California”, “denying Jewish bloodlines”, etc.)
7a. Fell apart at the Fairfax Chamber luncheon, which really scotched the campaign. NB: Deeds did the same thing in 2010-is there something in the air at the Fairfax Chamber luncheon?
8. Has not won a statewide election since 2000-his time has passed
9. Was a part of the Bush spending spree 2000-2006
10. The national mood is different, and Allen is vulnerable to a Tea Party type challenge
These arguments ignore a few things….Allen’s name ID and fundraising prowess, his strong base downstate, and the general weakness of his potential opponents for the nomination:
1. Corey Stewart-COB of one of the largest jurisdictions in Virginia, but to date a single issue candidate
2. Jamie Radtke-Big Tea Party ties, but able to say things that make folks ask “Is She Ready for Prime Time?”
3. Bob Marshall-Perhaps the brightest man in the General Assembly, but whose pronouncements leave folks thinking he is either a hero or a wacko
4. Bert Mizusawa-Lost Va-2 nomination to Scott Rigell, impressive resume but (see Radtke/primetime comment)…
I think Allen brings strengths to the table that other’s take for granted-a willingness to fight and a hard headed commitment to get where he wants to get. Let’s not forget this is a man whom the democrats gerrymandered out of his congressional seat, and who began his 1993 gubernatorial campaign as a big underdog. George Allen is no stranger to adversity-but each of those times he never had to reinvent himself-he just kept on running as himself and on the issues he had always stood on.
Now, he many need to do some reinvention…and while dumping the tobacco chewing and cowboy hats would help the image, he also needs to review his positions, how he wants to run, and what he wants to run on.
Reinvention is tough-the only time I can recall a Virginia politician scoring statewide wins (general election or primary) with a ten-year hiatus is Marshall Coleman, who won the AG nod and election in 1977, lost the gov race in 1981, and got the gov nod again in 1989. But for Allen to be a truly viable candidate, especially in a year with Obama running for reelection, is to show the public a new George Allen-one who carries the energy of his term as governor, capably reflects and adheres to the issues now at the GOP forefront, and who can deflect away his big spending senate votes.
That will be a tough row to hoe…
UPDATE: Apparently George Allen’s need to reinvent it being noticed in a lot of places.