George Allen Returns, Tea Party Looks At the Other Options

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 24 2011 12:25 PM

George Allen Returns, Tea Party Looks At the Other Options

Surprisingly almost nobody, George Allen will run for his old U.S. Senate seat in 2012. The early decision is necessary; I talked to Allen at the 2010 Virginia Tea Party Patriots convention, and noticed that the movement that now runs the GOP was skeptical about people who'd been in office in the Bush years.

"So many of these things they talk about were things I was fighting for as a delegate." He speaks with genuine-sounding admiration about how much the activists know. "I like these folks that carry around the Constitution."

A few steps away, Dennis O'Connor is handing out the most popular lapel sticker of the weekend: bright orange and visible from 20 paces, it says, "Guns Save Lives," a slogan of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. I ask what he'd think of a political comeback—which everybody now expects—from Allen.

"I have mixed feelings about him," says O'Connor. "He's not … bad. It depends, I guess, on who's running against him."

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Right on cue, Allen's likely Tea Party opponent Jamie Radtke, who organized the 2010 convention, is attacking him for "vot[ing] for budgets adding $3.1 trillion to the national debt" or "$16,400 for every second" of his one term. Politifact notes that this is true. Enough to drag him down to defeat? Possibly not. Enough to create uncertainty about who'll win?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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