Tales from the Trail

Webb’s retirement could loosen Democratic grip on U.S. Senate

Things just got a lot harder for Democrats.

First-term Senator James Webb announced on Wednesday he will not run for re-election in Virginia next year, making Republicans the early favorite to recapture the seat the Democrat narrowly won in 2006. MYANMAR-USA/

The decision by Webb, an author and a former secretary of the Navy, set off a celebration among Senate Republicans and a scramble to find a replacement among Democrats with no clear good options.

The name most frequently mentioned was former Governor Tim Kaine, head of the Democratic National Committee, who says he has no interest in the seat. Other possibilities among Democrats include former Congressman Tom Periello, who lost in November after one term, former Congressman Rick Boucher and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Republicans were gleeful at the turn of events. Former Senator George Allen, who lost a close battle with Webb in 2006 after his famous “macaca” moment, already has signed up for another shot. Other Republicans are expected to enter the race as well.

Democrats, meanwhile, face a potential free-for-all.

“Democrats will have great difficulty finding an electable candidate for this open seat,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the Republican Senate campaign committee. “We can only hope that Democrats succeed in recruiting President Obama’s number one cheerleader in Washington — Tim Kaine.”

Former Senator Allen trying for a comeback, but he’s got competition

Former Republican Senator George Allen is trying for a comeback for the Senate seat from Virginia that he narrowly lost to Democrat Jim Webb in 2006, following comments that critics said were racist.

USA ELECTIONS“Friends, it’s time for an American comeback,” Allen said in a video on his website. “Today, I’m announcing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate. You know me as someone willing to fight for the people of Virginia and I would like the responsibility to fight for you again.”

He promised a campaign for the 2012 election based on “foundational” principles that included reining in government spending and creating jobs.

Obama backer takes musical aim at Palin as VP pick

ROANOKE, Va. – Warming up a crowd for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in the Blue Ridge mountain region of Virginia, Sen. Jim Webb on Friday took aim at Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin’s qualifications.

Webb, who has deep roots in the Appalachian region, invoked a popular country music song about a romantic encounter gone bad to suggest that John McCain may regret his selection of the Alaska governor as his running mate.

rtx9nve.jpgAt a convention center before 8,000 supporters, Webb praised the judgment of Obama, a first-term Illinois senator.