Webb's seat: Washington Post pushes Perriello
Lots of names are being bandied about as possible Democratic candidates to run for U.S. Senate following Jim Webb's February 8 announcement that he won't seek a second term.
"Obviously they're going to start knocking on Tim Kaine's door first," says UVA pundit Larry Sabato about the former governor/Democratic National Committee chair. "He has said he will not run–- but he also predicted flatly Jim Webb would run."
Sabato also mentions former congressman Rick Boucher from Abingdon, who served 20 years in the House of Representatives and has a lot of campaign money left over.
But it's Ivy's own Tom Perriello who is picking up a lot of press from the Washington Post.
Says The Fix's Chris Cilliza: "Perriello's base in a GOP-tilting area, coupled with his fundraising ability, close relationship with the White House, and an expectation that he would be well received in the electorally critical northern Virginia suburbs is an intriguing combination of attributes in the eyes of party strategists."
E.J. Dionne also extols Perriello: "If Kaine doesn't run, I like the idea of former U.S. representative Tom Perriello taking a shot. Yes, Perriello lost his seat in south-central Virginia last year. But he held on to far more of his vote than most defeated incumbents–- and it's hard to think of any Democrat who had a tougher district. And Perriello has something important in common with Webb: He's independent-minded with interesting ideas that don't fit easily into anyone's philosophical boxes. In fact, some high-end media outlet should invite Perriello and Webb to debate the meaning of Jacksonian Democracy. They are two politicians who could pull that off. And it might give Webb a start on his next book."
On the Republican side, George Allen has already announced he's running to recapture his old seat, and the possibility of an Allen-Perriello contest would pit two former congressman who have represented Charlottesville–- Allen when it was in the 7th District and Perriello in the 5th–- in a race for the Senate.
"What it's going to come down to in the end is coattails," predicts Sabato. "If Obama wins Virginia again, then a respectable, credible Democrat will win. If Obama loses Virginia, then George Allen is coming back, assuming he wins the primary. And everybody assumes he will."
The presidential race will be the biggest factor for the winner of the Senate seat, believes Sabato, who asks, "How many people are going to vote for Barack Obama and George Allen?"
Updated February 14 with the correct spelling of Abingdon and the correct congressional district Allen represented before Charlottesville was redistricted into the 5th District.
Updated February 15 with remarks from Larry Sabato.