The Washington Times - November 10, 2011, 07:55PM

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to endorse Republican George Allen in the former governor’s quest to re-take his old U.S. Senate seat in 2012 on Friday.

While many have already painted the race as a match-up between former Gov. Tim Kaine and Mr. Allen, the Republican is, in fact, in a crowded GOP primary field that includes tea party leader Jamie Radtke, attorney David McCormick, television mogul Tim Donner and businessman E.W. Jackson.

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Mr. McDonnell is currently on a trade mission to Israel and India. The announcement is set to come via e-mail Friday morning.

The Republican Party of Virginia on Thursday announced three U.S. Senate debates would take place before the June primary. The first will be in the second week of April in Roanoke, the second will be held the first week of May in Northern Virginia, and the third will be held the third week of May in Hampton Roads. The debate will be open to all who have qualified for the June Republican primary ballot.

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins called and wrote to each of the party’s candidates Thursday to inform them of the debates.

“Now that we have achieved our goals for the 2011 election cycle, we will immediately shift our focus to 2012,” Mullins wrote. “On November 6, 2012 the voters of Virginia will help return a Republican majority to the U.S. Senate by sending one of you to Washington, D.C. as our next Senator.”