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2 Dems take aim at Allen Miller, Webb pose dilemma for party
Democratic Senate primary draws near

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Date published: 6/4/2006

RICHMOND--Virginia Democrats have been dying for a chance to unseat U.S. Sen. George Allen.

In just over a week, they'll pick their latest champion in that effort.

Democrats are holding a primary election June 13 to choose between two candidates for the party's nomination to run for the Senate against Allen.

On the one hand they have Harris Miller, a corporate lobbyist whose campaign funds include a lot of his own money, and who is able to afford TV ads, mailers and phone calls to voters.

On the other hand is Jim Webb, an author, Vietnam veteran and former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, who has less money and less advertising presence than Miller.

They have a few things in common--they both disagree with the war in Iraq, for instance, but want a clear exit strategy rather than yanking America out of Iraq immediately. They both want to see the No Child Left Behind Act fully funded, and they both think the state needs more federal help with transportation.

But they differ on other issues. Webb, for instance, wants ethics reform that would minimize the influence of lobbyists (such as Miller).

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said Democrats will ask themselves one of two questions next Tuesday--which candidate they agree with, and which one stands a better chance against Allen.

The answers to those two questions aren't the same, Sabato said.

"As you look at the two candidates, Democrats are going to have to decide what's more important to them. Do they want someone who is a reliable Democrat with whom they agree on virtually every issue, or are they willing to make some compromises in order to be more competitive with George Allen in November?" Sabato said. "If they decide the former, Harris Miller is the nominee. If they decide the latter, Jim Webb is the nominee."

Sabato said Allen doesn't want to run against Webb.

"Allen fears Webb. And he ought to," Sabato said. "Webb has some conservative positions and a conservative background in some ways, but he is staunchly anti-Iraq war. He's got military and intellectual credentials that make George Allen wilt."

But, Sabato said, if Webb looks more formidable against Allen than Miller does, Miller still appeals to more Democrats.

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