The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Friday, June 30, 2006

Trail notebook: Allen v. Webb

E-mails so vicious your computer cringes, packing more canned quotes than a 120 public relations hacks crammed into a VW bug. References to "glass dude ranches" and "Hollywood producers." And middle names used like four-letter words.

Oh, my.

The race between Republican U.S. Sen. George Allen and Democrat James Webb appears to be under way in earnest, with an intensity normally reserved for post-World Series politicking.

The e-mail box here at the mobile NV Daily political bureau is filling up like the basement of the National Archives, as both campaigns fire off missive after missive, looking for a free hit of ink that might just take their opponent down a peg in the process.

Allen prods Webb on flag burning, Webb fires back with both barrels. Webb prods Allen on the minimum wage, Allen fires back with an e-mail that actually sent this reporter into the Internet Movie Database for some research. It's not even August. Nor is it July, as of this writing.

So why the vitriol so early? It's hard to say, but published pundits and back bench whisperers alike attribute it the fallout of the quasi-national interest in Kaine v. Kilgore last year. As an off year election, 2005 was fought as almost a continuation of 2004 Bush v. Kerry.

Now, with a somewhat red state (re)electing a Democratic governor, Allen's campaign takes on sort of a "windsock" quality for the direction of the national body politic, at least according to the observers I pester week to week. Has the Bush administration's rotten poll numbers and general disdain for the GOP controlled Congress coalesced into enough energy to upset a prominent Republican? It's the $64,000 question ...

And let's not forget that George Allen might be running for president in 2008. While it might be the worst kept secret in Washington, Democrats would nonetheless be happy to take out a potential challenger to Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., or former Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner more than two years from Election Day.

So the rapid-fire campaign e-mails continue apace, with some polling data dashed in every so often just to spice things up. And it's still 13 weeks to Election Day.

It's almost enough to make the iBook of Mild Peril reboot itself. But not quite.