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

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Date published: 6/4/2006

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"If you look at the Democratic party traditionally, it is very likely that Miller will be the nominee. This is what Democrats tend to do, they nominate liberals and they'll worry about November when it gets here, which means they'll lose," Sabato said. "If Democrats break their own mold and think differently this one time, then Webb will be the nominee and we're in for a fascinating general election."

Also, personal credentials are all very well and good, but a well-run, effective campaign counts for a lot, too, and Miller has a better one than Webb, Sabato said.

"Between the two, Miller has run the better-organized and -financed campaign. They've done the right things. They've run a strategically sound primary campaign," Sabato said.

Webb himself says Miller has a solid strategy.

"Harris has run a very smart campaign. We'll have to see how it plays out," Webb told reporters after a news conference in Richmond last week where he was announcing an endorsement by Del. Don McEachin.

He said Miller had targeted people likely to vote in the primary--i.e. hard-core Democratic activists. Webb, too, would like those people to vote for him, but said he's also trying to show he is widening the base.

"We have had a tremendous amount of support from the bottom up," Webb said, even though Miller's fundraising has outstripped his own. "I think we're doing extremely well. We'll know in two weeks."

But widening the voter base works better in general elections--primaries generally have an abysmal voter turnout, mostly made up of the party's activists, although anyone can vote in a primary in Virginia.

Miller said in a phone interview that he's trying to reach voters who are likely to vote in the primary. But his campaign has been more against Allen than against Webb--much of Miller's stump rhetoric revolves around the problems in Washington and how Allen is part of those problems.

"I'm focusing my campaign on replacing George Allen. He's part of the mess in Washington. People know Washington's broken and it's time for a change," Miller said. "I have a real solution for real problems. George Allen has been a total partisan."

Miller believes his business background makes him the stronger candidate--he points to former Gov. Mark Warner, who went from businessman to elected official, as proof that that kind of Democrat wins in Virginia.


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