Virginia's 2012 Senate race is the stuff political junkies dream about: Two former governors and old enemies, both well-funded, and a race so close not even a single percentage point separates the two.
Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine are facing off for the right to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb in a race that could go a long way toward deciding whether Virginia is now red, blue or purple. And it's going to be a close one.
How close? The political Web site RealClearPolitics compiles averages of recent polls, and it's most recent average showed the gap between Allen and Kaine at just 0.4 percentage points.
Going back two years, both men have rarely had a comfortable lead - most polls show Allen or Kaine ahead by one or two points.
The two are also tied close together in fundraising. According to Federal Election Commission records, Allen has $3.3 million, while Kaine has $2.7 million.
Both men could also see infusions of cash from their party's national committees as the race reaches the end. And it's worth noting that Kaine led the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2011.
The two men also held the same office of governor of the commonwealth -- Allen led the state from 1994 to 1998, while Kaine helmed it from 2006 to 2010.
Allen, the son of former NFL head coach George Allen, preceded Webb in the Senate, and lost a close race to him in a bitter campaign that was dominated in the final days by video footage of Allen using a racial epithet. He lost by less than 10,000 votes.
Kaine is a former mayor of Richmond and lieutenant governor. He jumped into the Senate race after several other prominent Virginia Democrats declined to enter and urged him to run instead. He ran an underdog campaign for governor and won narrowly, succeeding Mark Warner - now a U.S. senator. He was on President Obama's short list of vice presidential candidates in 2008 but was passed over.
Once considered reliably red, Virginia has in recent years become a wildly unpredictable state in terms of its choices of statewide politicians, constantly veering back and forth between Democrats and Republicans for governor as well as U.S. Senate.
But it stuck with Republicans for president, until President Obama won the state in the 2008 election. It was the first time a Democrat won the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
by RTT Staff Writer
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