Web Exclusive: We've got a lot going for us in 2012
The retirement of Senator Webb has led to some speculation regarding how it may affect Democratic hopes to keep his seat. While we’re all disappointed that we won’t have the chance to send Senator Webb back to the Senate, that doesn’t mean we should be discouraged about our prospects for victory in 2012. We’ve got a lot going for us as a party, including a great slate of potential candidates, a near certainty that Virginia will be a big player in the presidential race and the greatest grassroots volunteer base of any state in the country.
On top of all of that, perhaps the most important advantage we have as a party is the possibility that the Republicans will choose George Allen to be their candidate once again. As long as George Allen is George Allen, Democrats will remain in good shape to keep Senator Jim Webb’s U.S. Senate seat in the hands of a leader who shares our values of job creation, justice and equal opportunity for all.
No matter who ends up as the Democratic nominee, there is a good chance that he or she will face a candidate who lost his seat to Jim Webb in 2006, in part due to his virtual lack of accomplishment during his six years in office and in part due to one of the most spectacular campaign meltdowns in the history of American politics.
Before his collapse, Allen was a leading figure in the race for the 2008 Republican nomination for president. He was spending time in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire and he was quoted more than once talking about how bored he was in the Senate and how he’d like something a little more… executive.
Since his collapse from presidential contender to national punch line in 2006, Allen has done absolutely nothing to demonstrate to Virginians that he brings anything more to the table than he did the last time they refused to hire him. In fact, members of his own party aren’t even sure they want to give him another shot, as one has already challenged him to a primary and several others are considering jumping in as well.
If you take a look at Allen’s recent public statements or the video announcing his candidacy, you’ll hear the Tea Party bromides and hollow clichés of a candidate who has built a career on his ability to project an image that covers his inadequacies as a leader. From the cowboy hat and the football analogies to his current campaign slogan “Stay Strong for Freedom,” (which, like Allen, sounds okay at first but has no substantive meaning) Allen got a long way on his uncanny ability to look good without having to be good.
Unfortunately for Allen, Virginians are not in a position where they can afford to elect a Senator without a clear vision for how to make their lives better. Too many people are out of work, stuck in traffic or worried about the quality of their kids’ schools to send someone to Washington to sit on the backbench and build a presidential campaign.
The Democratic leaders who are considering running against Allen (or the Republican nominee) to replace Jim Webb all have different styles and different approaches to public service, but none of them lacks a substantive vision for the future of our Commonwealth and our nation. Each of them shares our Democratic values of economic fairness, justice and equality of opportunity for every Virginian, and each of them would provide voters with a clear choice between a mediocre former-senator looking for redemption and a real leader who will make our nation more equal, just and prosperous.
We’re all looking forward to having a Democratic candidate to support for Senate in 2012, but in the mean time, there’s a lot we can do to remind Virginians about the difference between what George Allen rhetoric and his mediocre record as a U.S. Senator. While he’s out there “staying strong for freedom,” we can set the stage for our Democratic candidates, including our Democratic Senate nominee and President Barack Obama, to win big in Virginia in 2012.