The state of Virginia is positioning itself as a key battleground in the 2012 election cycle. Last week, outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine announced he would run for Senate in Virginia in hopes of replacing retiring Democrat Jim Webb.
Webb’s decision not to seek another term comes after months of polling indicating grim reelection prospects. President Obama and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee were successful in drafting Tim Kaine, who served as Governor of Virginia prior to his position at the DNC. Without a Kaine candidacy, the Democrats may have been left without a viable Senate candidate in a key swing state.
Despite A-list recruitment by the Democrats, Republicans still have the upper hand in the Commonwealth. Former Governor and Senator George Allen, who announced his candidacy in January, leads Kaine in a potential match-up. A Roanoke College Poll shows Allen besting Kaine by a margin of 13 points (45%-32%).
Also working in the Republicans’ favor is President Obama’s abysmal approval rating in Virginia. In the same poll showing Allen with a clear advantage over Kaine, President Obama finds his approval rating at merely 34%. 71% of poll respondents said the nation was on the wrong track. However, current Virginia Governor, Republican Bob McDonnell, finds himself with a 66% approval rating, up from 57% in December.
Kaine is unlikely to face any primary challenge, however there is speculation pro-abortion Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) may be considering a bid. Allen, on the other hand, already has a primary challenger in Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke. Like Allen, Radtke holds a pro-life position. Current polls on the GOP primary show Allen with the primary virtually locked.
On the right to life, the contrast between Kaine and Allen could not be starker. Running for election in the traditionally Republican-leaning state of Virginia, Kaine does not hesitate to call himself pro-life, citing a “faith-based” opposition to abortion. However, his record indicates the contrary. Holly Smith, Chair of the Virginia Society for Human Life PAC, said this about Kaine in National Right to Life News:
“Tim Kaine’s conciliatory rhetoric on abortion masks positions consistent with Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations.”
“Despite voicing support for banning partial-birth abortions, Kaine supported a ‘health exception,’ which is the loophole pro-abortion leaders sought to keep abortion unrestricted. He also would have opposed Virginia’s recently passed clinic regulations that ensure that freestanding abortion facilities meet the same standards for safety and cleanliness as other medical facilities.”
Kaine has also stated he opposes overturning Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion-on-demand. It is not a stretch to say that in the US Senate, Kaine would likely vote to confirm justices to the Supreme Court who share his support for the Roe decision.
George Allen, however, has an outstanding pro-life record, earning a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee during his six years in the US Senate. Conversely, Allen earned a 0% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Notably, as a US Senator, Allen voted for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, to ban embryonic stem cell research and to affirm the pro-life Mexico City Policy, which prevented taxpayer funding of abortion abroad.
Virginia is quickly taking on the role of bellwether state in 2012. Echoing national trends in 2010, Virginia may be an indicator for the future of the White House and the US Senate in 2012.