Webb won’t commit to 2012 run
Virginia Senator Jim Webb is less than two years away from a re-election bid, a contest that by all measures will be difficult. But while many Democrats are huddling in strategy sessions preparing to reverse the current Republican tide, Webb doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to decide if he is even going to run.
In a fascinating profile on the Commonwealth’s senior Senator posted on RealClearPolitics.com, Webb won’t commit to a run in 2012. “Still sorting that out,” he said before adding. “I’m not saying I’m not.”
Webb’s ambivalence is alarming to Democrats because the man he beat, former Senator George Allen, appears to already be running for his old seat. Allen has written a book and has become a regular at GOP events large and small across Virginia. In addition to his traditional stumping, Allen often appears on local TV and radio stations, while Webb rarely grants interviews to local reporters. (Contrasted by his always available colleague Sen. Mark Warner, who will appear live on NBC12 First at 4 Wednesday)
While Webb has always done things his way, his resistance to state his plans has caught the attention of major media players like the Washington Post, which now ranks Virginia’s senate seat as the 5th most likely to change party hands.
Their ranking is in part, attributed to Webb’s lackluster fund raising. He raised only $16,000 in the third quarter of 2010 and has $471,000 on hand. The Post has list of other incumbent Senators and how much they have raised by comparison.
While Webb is not ready to make a decision, don’t expect Democrats interested in running for the post to say a word until he is officially out. The Post speculated, wisely that former Governor Tim Kaine would be a front runner for the slot. However (and this is all speculation) don’t rule out Terry McAuliffe who is almost certain to run for Governor, but might be tempted to throw his statewide infrastructure into the mix early if the opportunity presented itself. Another long shot possibility, Rep. Tom Perriello. While Perriello just suffered a tough defeat, he drew the admiration of many for the fight he waged. Congressman rarely become statewide names, but the attention Perriello’s race drew and his visit from President Obama have made him very well known across Virginia. Perriello also is able to tap into a wide-ranging liberal fund-raising base that could help a potential statewide campaign. While Perriello has not given many details into his future plans, he has been tossed around in some circles as a potential statewide candidate.
Of course this all idle speculation until Webb makes his final decision. Webb spokesman Will Jenkins confirmed for me that the Senator has not made up his mind if he will run again, but he couldn’t offer a time line for when the decision might be made.
I also have some ideas as to who may be willing to challenge Allen for the Republican nod, especially if Webb is out of the mix. I’ll share them at a later date.