Allen took hit in Vir­ginia coun­ties he car­ried hand­ily in 2000 race

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Christina Bellantoni

RICH­MOND — Sen. Ge­orge Allen was able to hold Vir­ginia’s con­ser­va­tive strongholds on Nov. 7, but his mar­gins of vic­tory were too slim to save his seat and re­tain the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity in the U.S. Se­nate.

An amend­ment defin­ing tra­di­tional mar­riage cap­tured 155,000 more votes than Mr. Allen’s re-elec­tion bid, in­di­cat­ing that many vot­ers ap­proved of the mea­sure but pre­ferredMr.Webb,aformerNavy­sec­re­tary un­der Pres­i­dent Rea­gan.

Exit polls showed that Democrats,con­ser­va­tivesandin­de­pen­dents whow­ere­frus­trat­ed­bytheIraqwar aban­doned Mr. Allen and fa­vored Mr.Webb,aViet­namvet­er­an­whose son is serv­ing in Iraq.

Mr.Al­len­hadtrou­blese­cur­inghis con­ser­va­tive base in the fi­nal weeks of the cam­paign, ev­i­denced by the dif­fer­ence in re­sults be­tween his elec­tion­totheSe­natein2000and­last week’s tal­lies.

He­wonRepub­li­can-lean­ingHen­rico County by 1,020 votes. In 2000, he won Hen­rico by more than 9,500 votes in his vic­tory over Demo­cratic Sen. Charles S. Robb.

Vir­ginia’s nail-biter stunned the na­tion as its res­o­lu­tion de­ter­mined con­trol of the Se­nate.

The re­sults show that the state is chang­ing,with­a­grow­ing­pop­u­la­tion in North­ern Vir­ginia, and that Mr. Al­lenisad­if­fer­ent­can­di­datethanthe onewhoun­seat­edMr.Robb­sixyears ago.

Mr.Al­len­was­forced­to­cam­paign as part of the es­tab­lish­ment in­stead of as an out­sider with a plat­form for re­form,which­waskey­to­hissuc­cess in­2000and­in­his­gu­ber­na­to­ri­al­race in 1993.

Un­til re­cently, he was a staunch de­fender of Pres­i­dent Bush’s Iraq war pol­icy, and many vot­ers pre­ferred Mr. Webb, an early op­po­nent of the un­pop­u­lar con­flict.

“The state has changed on him, big­time,”Webb­spokeswom­anKris­tian Denny Todd said.

In ad­di­tion, sev­eral mis­steps prompt­ed­his­peer­storateMr.Allen’s as­the­worst-run­cam­paigninthen­ation.ManyVir­gini­ans­fault­ed­him­for nu­mer­ous gaffes, in­clud­ing his “macaca” mo­ment.

The re­sults also sug­gest that Vir­gini­ais­be­com­ing­moreDemo­cratic, es­pe­cially in the grow­ing outer sub­urbs of North­ern Vir­ginia.

“I don’t think the tra­di­tional pun­ditry of di­vid­ing the state into dif­fer­ent re­gions is al­ways cor­rect,” said for­mer Gov. Mark Warner, who in 2001 up­set an eight-year Repub­li­can streak in gu­ber­na­to­rial races.

Anal­y­sis of un­of­fi­cial re­sults shows Mr. Allen lost five coun­ties thathe­had­wonin2000—Al­leghany, Mont­gomery, Nelson, Prince William and Rap­pa­han­nock.

In 2001, Mr. Warner won three of those, and in last year’s gov­er­nor’s race, Demo­crat Ti­mothy M. Kaine won all five of those coun­ties.

The most dra­matic shift was seen in Prince William, which Mr. Allen won by 7,760 votes in 2000. He lost it to Mr. Webb by more than 2,000 votes, ac­cord­ing to the un­of­fi­cial re­sults.

The Allen cam­paign was bogged down with ques­tions of char­ac­ter and neg­a­tive ads that turned off vot­ers on both sides.

Mr. Allen and na­tional Repub­li­cans ran ads in Oc­to­ber aimed at their con­ser­va­tive base, sig­nal­ing that they had not se­cured this key vot­ing bloc. The ads said that Mr. Webb would give il­le­gal aliens amnesty and would raise taxes.

Exit polls showed that Mr. Allen’s strat­e­gy­ofhit­tingMr.Web­bon­taxes worke­donvot­er­swor­ried­about­their April 15 bills, but it wasn’t enough to de­liver him a vic­tory.

Oth­ers said they felt Mr. Allen pan­dered to the wrong au­di­ence to shore up cen­trist sup­port for a 2008 pres­i­den­tial run.

BragBowl­ing,acom­man­der­with the Sons of Con­fed­er­ate Vet­er­ans, said Mr. Allen slighted the her­itage group when he dis­missed the Con­fed­er­ate flag as a racist sym­bol in hopes of cap­tur­ing black votes and po­si­tion him­self for a White House bid.

“Doe­sany­o­ne­thinkGe­orgeAllen could have used our votes yes­ter­day?” Mr. Bowl­ing asked his sup­port­ers in an e-mail. “It por­trayed Allen as a pan­derer will­ing to jet­ti­son his po­lit­i­cal base to ap­peal to a na­tional au­di­ence.”

An As­so­ci­ated Press exit poll showed black vot­ers over­whelm­ingly fa­vored Mr. Webb.

Some con­ser­va­tives said Mr. Allen’sat­tack­sofMr.Webb’s1979­po­si­tionon­wom­enin­com­bat­playedto fem­i­nist­sand­madeMr.Web­bap­peal to men. Three-quar­ters of vot­ers in the AP exit poll said they think Mr. Webb re­spects women.

SethMcLaugh­lin­con­tribut­edto this re­port.

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