Editorial: The early bird
Even before any serious presidential contenders have officially come forward to announce their bids, Virginia already has a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012, a man who tossed his cowboy hat into the ring earlier this week.
George Allen released a video on YouTube Monday, announcing his intention to run for the same Senate seat he lost four years ago.
For those unfamiliar with the 2006 campaign, it basically came down to one word—macaca. Allen, who was leading in the polls at the time, used the obscure (until now, that is) word to describe a volunteer for his opponent, Democrat Jim Webb. The volunteer is a man of Indian descent, and macaca, it turns out, is a derogatory term used in some European countries to refer to African immigrants, as well as slang used to describe a monkey.
Tainted by this off-hand comment, as well as subsequent allegations of racism, Allen lost the campaign to Webb by a narrow margin, and watched his hopes for a possible presidential bid in 2008 go up in smoke. In the wake of that election, the term "macaca moment" became part of the national political lexicon.
Fast forward to 2011. Allen has recast himself in the mold of the Tea Party, a movement that didn’t exist four years ago. Allen speaks in his video about a return to elected officials who "listen to We The People, adhere to foundational principles (and) rein in spending." He promises "to work hard restoring freedom, personal responsibility and opportunity for all."
It appears that Allen hopes to tap into the current discontent with official Washington to pave the way for his return to the capital city. He certainly has a jump on the competition; Webb has not even indicated whether he intends to run for a second term, and no other serious Republican contenders have come forward … yet.
Only time—nearly two years’ worth—will tell whether Allen’s strategy is successful.