George Allen is not yet the Republican nominee for Senate in Virginia, but that’s not stopping him from debating Democrat Tim Kaine on Wednesday.
The Hill says the debate “will mark the highest profile event so far for both candidates, and be an early test for the would-be senators.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch calls it “their first heavyweight bout.”
But Allen hasn’t forgotten he has a primary to survive first. The Washington Examiner says Allen has agreed to take part in three debates with primary rivals Tim Donner, Earl Jackson, David McCormick and Jamie Radtke in April and May.
And he’s wise not to be overconfident. Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips is backing Radtke, writing that she “understands the Constitution and its role in the life of our country.” He says Radtke “is stepping up and making history” by “fighting an established, establishment politician like George Allen.”
In the Danville Register and Bee, GOP state Sen. Frank Ruff Jr. gives Allen his backing, writing, “Virginia needs a US senator who will vote the best interest of Virginians, not the interests of the president and his allies in Washington.”
* Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli’s entry into the 2013 gubernatorial race upended the Republican Party of Virginia Advance this weekend, but Cuccinelli was not even there. He was instead moderating a Fox News GOP presidential candidate forum with his AG peers from Florida and Oklahoma.
But though Cuccinelli was absent, the Washington Times says his “bombshell announcement” was the talk of the gathering. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who went from heir apparent to primary underdog last week, said at the event, “I wish I didn’t have to say anything about 2013. Unfortunately, because of the events of the past few days, we no longer have that opportunity.” He said it was too soon to focus on what promises to be a bitter fight, since the Virginia GOP has a presidential and senatorial race to deal with first.
The Roanoke Times agrees, writing in an editorial, “Make a New Year’s resolution to ignore any candidate who will not appear on the ballot in the next general election. Forget the candidates running for 2013 until the calendar catches up with their political aspirations.”
Still, the Cuccinelli fallout will have a short-term effect. Federal News Radio says Bolling, as the tiebreaker in the new 20-20 state Senate, may not want to alienate conservatives. So a rash of legislation on social issues is expected, with Bolling using his vote to prove his bona fides.
Cuccinelli’s move is affecting downballot primary races as well. The Gainesville Times reports Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart said Sunday that he plans to run for lieutenant governor, and NBC Richmond says Del. Rob Bell is joining state Sen. Mark Obenshain in the race for AG.
* Cuccinelli was not impressed by his party’s two presidential frontrunners after the Fox News forum. Politico reports Cuccinelli said after the event that he doesn’t “see a lot of distance” between Mitt Romney and President Obama on healthcare, and said of Newt Gingrich, “We could have another compassionate conservative on our hands.”
Maybe the man Cuccinelli hopes to succeed sees things differently. Bob Rayner of the Times-Dispatch says Gov. Bob McDonnell could make a good running mate for either Romney or Gingrich, as a popular swing-state governor “who can reassure conservatives -- particularly social conservatives and evangelicals -- without scaring away moderates and independents.”
* The Frederick News-Post says in an editorial that fellow Republicans are “steamrollering” Sixth District Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who still says he is seeking re-election. Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney and state Sen. David Brinkley are in, and longtime Bartlett chief of staff Bud Otis may also run. The News-Post says the “contest, which promised to be bruising, now becomes brutal -- Mooney is a dirty campaigner who will take no prisoners. And a nasty Republican primary bodes well for the Democrats.”
* The Baltimore Sun reports Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will co-host a December 14 fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s all-but-certain 2014 gubernatorial run.