- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Sen. George Allen yesterday implored his colleagues to give presidential nominees a fair chance during a farewell speech that left the Virginia Republican’s political future wide open.

Mr. Allen’s stunning November loss helped Democrats, who have blocked many of President Bush’s judge and agency nominees, regain the Senate majority.

“Accord [nominees] the fairness of an up or down vote,” Mr. Allen said. “It’s part of representative democracy.”

“Let’s have John Bolton be the last casualty of the unfortunate partisan obstructionism,” Mr. Allen said, referring to Mr. Bush’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Bolton received his ambassadorship through a presidential recess appointment, which expires at the beginning of next year. He resigned Monday when it was clear his nomination couldn’t pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Allen’s goodbye speech was upbeat and kept the door open for another run for public office. The one-term senator reflected on the “valuable lessons learned” from his colleagues “as I prepare to take leave.”

He also reprised themes from his campaign stump speech, saying lawmakers should fight to protect freedom, preserve American values and ensure the U.S. is a “land of opportunity for all.”

Many Virginians think Mr. Allen may trumpet those ideals again to run for Senate in 2008 if his Republican colleague John W. Warner, 79, retires.

Mr. Allen, who has not announced his plans, also is thought to be considering another bid for Virginia’s governorship in 2009. He served as governor in the mid-1990s and is considered one of Virginia’s most successful chief executives. Mr. Allen lost to his Democratic challenger, James H. Webb Jr., by 9,329 votes in the Nov. 7 election after a bitter and costly campaign defined more by questions of character than legislative ideas.

His Senate colleagues said he will be missed.

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, called Mr. Allen an “impressive, strong conservative leader.”

“If he wants to, he can have a political future,” Mr. Vitter said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, also said Mr. Allen’s political career remains viable.

“He’s a good guy, he’s stayed true to his beliefs,” he said.

Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, lauded the optimism and bipartisan spirit in Mr. Allen’s farewell.

For Virginia Republicans, it’s a matter of which office and when, not whether the senator will run again.

“George just has to decide what direction he wants to go in,” said Lt. Gov. William T. Bolling.

Mr. Allen’s was one in a parade of goodbyes this week, but his loss irritated some Republicans who declined to speak publicly.

Sen. George V. Voinovich said Tuesday that his fellow Ohio Republican, Sen. Mike DeWine, lost his race by “no fault of his own.”

That has not been said about Mr. Allen. The senator, who at one time was mentioned as a 2008 presidential contender, made mistakes throughout his re-election campaign. Most notable was his well-publicized use of the word “macaca” that is considered offensive in some cultures.

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee was forced to spend $5 million on ads to defend what once was considered a safe seat. Some Republicans said that money should have gone to Senate races in Missouri or Maryland, where victories could have prevented the Democratic takeover.

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