Virginia Centrist: Challenging Allen

Virginia Centrist has this post regarding who – if anyone – can seriously challenge Senator Allen in 2006.

For the most part, he’s right:

Running a credible Senate campaign against a longtime incumbent requires a few things:

1. Some negatives to throw against the incumbent.

2. Tons of money.

3. An organized effort that starts AT LEAST 2 years out.

I can’t think of any strong negatives to use against Allen.

No one has raised any money.

No one has organized anything other than a draft website.

The only person who could have given Allen a race (and beaten him) was Mark Warner. And he’s not running.

All of that is true. However, I can think of two notable exceptions that might buck that trend.

Leslie Byrne might be a socialist, a liberal, a feminist, a name-her-whatever-you-want. But despite having been beaten by Bill Bolling, for a Northern Virginian so radical to run so well has to raise an eyebrow. Ancedotally, she seems remarkably personable, and if we add to the stack of wood the fact that 2006 just might shape up to be a Democratic backlash, who knows? Byrne just might – might – be able to pull it off.

Of course, she is entirely contrary to just about every single policy position conservatives hold dear. She might fire up the NOVA base, but conservative across the Commonwealth would turn out to both punish her and coronate George Allen as the ’08 nominee. Virginia Dems running Leslie Byrne is the political equivelant of pushing all their chips into the center of the table… if they win, stop the presses. If they lose…

However, there is another consideration that I believe would be one hell of a race.

Chap Petersen outraised his opposition 3 to 1. He has statewide name recognition, time on his hands, is young, and is of the same mold as Kaine and Warner. Furthermore, Senator Petersen would be the ideal cheerleader for Warner’s ’08 Democratic presidential bid. Can you see the kickoff now with a victorious Petersen and Governor Kaine holding the raised hands of Presidential candidate Mark Warner now? It would be the perfect launching pad for a new Democratic Party that so-called centrists would prefer over the Howard Dean faction.

Question is, can he pull it off? Or will he have the same problems with his base as Kilgore did amongst conservatives? My answer to this is that Petersen can certainly do it. He had plenty of Young Democrats working for him during the primary.

Furthermore, Petersen has what Byrne cannot do: run to the right of George Allen. Where? Abortion.

Petersen supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood, supported the ban on partial birth abortion, and supported legislation that made the killing of a unborn child a separate crime in commission of a homicide. Granted, the man is still pro-choice (safe, legal, and rare), but Allen’s pro-life record isn’t all that stellar either, which means pro-lifers who typically are motivated to vote for candidates such as Bill Bolling will have to be convinced. If they have to be convinced, then they are “in play”, and if so then Petersen can certainly muddy the waters.

The difference will come down to taxes. If the Warner approach is more palatable in 2006, then David can certainly knock down Goliath.

However, if the conservative base is up in arms, Allen is uniquely positioned as a tax-cutting, no-nonsense, libertarian-leaning “Jeffersonian conservative” that can take any and all challengers.

Democrats have a choice between a very liberal candidate in Leslie Byrne that can bleed Allen in roll of the dice, or a not-so-liberal candidate in Chap Petersen that could certainly do rebuild the DPVA’s future. Byrne cripples, Petersen builds. That’s the way I see it.

The question the Dems have to answer is where do they want the party to go?

If with Byrne, then the lessons of 2000 and 2004 have gone unheeded and we’ll continue to run candidates like George Bush (and for as moronic as the radical Dems continue to lambast that man, I submit to all that this “moron” Bush beat both Prince Albert and John Kerry).

If Petersen, the Dems are taking that critical step to the right and the GOP needs to rediscover what its roots are (I’ve opined on what I think this will be once before) in order to win. Petersen is the reason why the GOP cannot fight over so-called moderates and centrists. They aren’t limited government types, they aren’t pro-life, they aren’t going to cut taxes and lessen the size and scope of government’s power. Fighting for the middle is ludicrous for the long-term health of the party… unless we really want to see the Libertarian Party become viable.

Republicans take notice: Don’t believe the hype about Allen being invincible. Kilgore was invincible with a 10-point lead. The Democratic bench is deeper now than it was two months ago thanks to a Kaine victory.

When the Virginia Dems figure out who they are and what they stand for, they are going to attack with everything they have. Republicans have a year at most to figure out where we stand, act on those principles, and fend off the Democratic challenger in 2006 – whomever that person might be.

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