While former U.S. Sen. George Allen faces a full primary field in his quest to win back his Senate seat, he still is widely expected to win the Republican nomination.
“There hasn’t really been a sense that there has been a strong resistance to Allen,” said Kyle Kondik, communications director for the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Pollsters have been persistently tracking a prospective matchup between Allen and former Gov. Tim Kaine, who already has the Democratic Party nomination, for well more than a year as if it is a done deal. The polling remains at a virtual tie, with both candidates scoring a point or two higher in various polls.
However, the sense of inevitability attached to Allen hasn’t stopped Jamie Radtke, state Del. Bob Marshall or E.W. Jackson from gathering support around the state and pushing ahead with their campaigns.
Radtke of Richmond is a leader of the Virginia Tea Party, runs a political consulting business and began her career in Washington, D.C., as a staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Marshall, who entered the race much later than Radtke but still gathered enough support to make it on the ballot, has served in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1991. The Prince William County resident also sought the Republican Senate nomination in 2008, but came up short.
Jackson is a minister and former lawyer from Chesapeake. He founded Exodus Faith Ministries, which has locations in Chesapeake and Boston.
All three are stronger advocates on social issues than Allen, who is focusing his campaign on employment and economic issues. Radtke and Jackson both include opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage as key parts of their platforms, and Marshall has introduced many bills at the state level on those issues.
However, the three are likely to split whatever anti-Allen votes there are, Kondik said.
“If one of them had a clear field, maybe it’s a different story,” he said.
The Republican Party of Virginia is planning to have three debates among the four candidates in the late spring.
The primary is June 12 and is open to any registered voter because Virginia does not require registration by party.