By Shane D’Aprile -The Hill
Virginia Republicans have paved the way for former Sen. George Allen’s (R-Va.) comeback in 2012, but a rematch of one of 2006’s nastiest Senate contests is still far from a forgone conclusion.
The speculation about Allenâ€™s return has put the pressure on Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who some Democrats think is ambivalent about another run in 2012.
Allen unexpectedly lost a tight race to Webb in 2006, thanks in part to what has become known as the “macaca moment.” Allen was caught on tape aiming the epithet at a Democratic tracker who was filming one of Allen’s campaign events.
Still, Allen remains one of the state’s most popular Republicans and a recent poll from Democratic-leaning Public Policy showed him to be the runaway favorite among Virginia Republicans.
In a statement, Webb spokesman Will Jenkins said the senator “will address his intentions regarding the 2012 election cycle after giving the matter proper thought and consideration,” but offered no timetable for a decision.
That’s not good enough for one of the senior Democratic strategist in the state, who said Democrats risk giving Republicans a major leg up unless Webb declares his intentions and gets serious about 2012 quickly.
“If Webb doesn’t get off his butt and start acting like he wants the job, we’re in trouble,” said the strategist, who asked for anonymity to speak candidly about frustrations with Webb. “He’s probably our best bet, but he isn’t doing anything he needs to do.”
The strategist said Webb still has the right profile for a statewide Democrat in Virginia but that his posturing is reminiscent of former Sen. Chuck Robb (D-Va.) who “liked the work in the Senate, but hated the politics of it all.”
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