Senate Republicans got some great news, according to Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza:
Virginia Sen. Jim Webb‘s decision not to seek re-election creates an open seat in traditionally Republican territory that could further tilt the map in the GOP’s favor as they aim to win back the Senate in 2012.
Right now, it is expected that Republicans will nominate former Senator George Allen. He lost to Webb in large part to his insulting use of ‘macaca’ to one of his opponent’s campaign workers (who would videotape all of Allen’s speeches). Now Allen wants to win his seat back. Allen, like most Virginia Republicans these days, is pro-life. But that wasn’t always the case. Pro-abortion Republican John Warner served in the Senate from 1979 to 2007.
Since this Senate seat will be held along side the Presidential election, the winner of the race might very well depend on who wins the White House. Barack Obama was the first Democrat to win the Old Dominion since LBJ’s landslide in 1964. And the population in Northern Virginia continues to grow (and they tend to support Democrats).
But since the 2008 campaign, Virginia has been returning to its Republican trend. Bob McDonnell was elected governor and Ken Cuccinelli elected attorney general in 2009. (Cuccinelli garnered national attention for leading the fight against Obamacare in federal court.)
In 2010, Virginia Republicans added to these gains by defeating three House Democrats: Rick Boucher (in office since 1982) and Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello (both freshmen).
Tom Perriello, you might remember, co-founded of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, an organization which has made excuses for supporting pro-abortion candidates.
If former Gov. Tim Kaine (now the DNC chair) decides not to run for this Senate seat, Tom Perriello is a name frequently mentioned as a candidate. During the last week of the campaign, President Obama dropped into southwest Virginia to help Tom Perriello in his effort to win reelection. It didn’t help.
But even though Obama didn’t help Perriello win in southwest Virginia last year, having the President’s name at the top of the ticket might help a Democrat win this statewide race in 2012. No matter who the Democrats nominate, Republicans should expect this to be a spirited contest.