Allen, who lost his Senate seat in 2006, likely will face stiff competition on the right in his bid to get a possible rematch with Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.
Tea party activist Jamie Radtke has declared for the seat. State Delegate Bob Marshall and Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart are expected to challenge Allen, also a former governor of the commonwealth, for the Republican nomination. Marshall almost won the 2008 senate nomination, and Stewart has made a name cracking down on illegal immigration.
"They are going to say that George Allen is this retread guy who lost re-election and lost it in an embarrassing way, so you can see a dynamic building in this campaign of sort of the new blood against the old," said political analyst Mark Rozell.
Stewart told NBC Washington's Julie Carey that the once popular and powerful Allen is not the best choice for the GOP.
"George Allen would be a terrible candidate for the Republican Party in 2012," he said. "He's got the baggage, he ran a poor campaign in 2006 and he never acted as a conservative when he was in the U.S. Senate."
The baggage refers to some of Allen's unrehearsed comments in that derailed his 2006 Senate bid -- his use of the macaca slur and clumsy handling of the revelation that he had Jewish ancestors. Allen has spent the years since laying the groundwork for a comeback -- writing a book and headlining a Jewish conference, Carey reported.
Allen lost five years ago after what he concedes was a sloppy campaign. He was a rising Republican star preoccupied with a 2008 presidential run who had brought in a new campaign team, not the longtime advisers and aides who had guided his previous triumphs.
Allen said he's prepared to address his missteps in his new campaign.
"On the issue of macaca, that was a college kid who was there doing his job and I should not have drawn him into it. I regret it and I have apologized to him for it. I regret that it took away from the very serious issues of that campaign, and this campaign will be fought on those issues," Allen told the Associated Press.
"On a personal level, that was very hard on us, on (wife) Susan, on my children, hearing all that stuff that was being said about me, and so as a person, as a parent and as a husband, I'm going to do a much better job this time," Allen said.
Some political analysts believe Allen starts the campaign for the GOP nomination as the favorite despite his weaknesses because of his name recognition and ability to raise funds.
Allen said he will champion sharp spending cuts, an end to federal health care reforms and an increased focus on domestic energy, including coal. He also promised support for constitutional amendments that would allow states to veto federal laws, give the president line-item veto authority and require balanced federal budgets.
Allen told The Associated Press he will run a more disciplined campaign than his previous one. The cowboy-booted, tobacco-chewing namesake son of Hall of Fame Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen ran tightly scripted, disciplined and victorious campaigns for governor in 1993 and for Senate in 2000.
In the days before his announcement, Allen toured Virginia with the conservative Americans For Prosperity, advancing its mandate for deep spending cuts and a drastically reduced federal role in American governance.
"And I have support from the tea party, and in fact they've come to me. The tea party has little groups all over the state and many of them have come to me and invited me to speak," Allen said in the interview.
Webb, who defeated Allen by about 9,000 votes, has not said whether he will run next year. Webb, 64, has kept a low political profile, focusing on Senate business and doing little fundraising.