- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

As fundraising heavyweight George Allen powers toward the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, one of his long-shot opponents says she is meeting the more modest fundraising benchmarks achieved by the man who defeated Mr. Allen six years ago.

Mr. Allen on Tuesday reported raising $1.5 million during the first quarter in his quest to reclaim the Senate seat he lost to Sen. Jim Webb in 2006, dwarfing the roughly $150,000 that newcomer Jamie Radtke says she raised. The tea party favorite will face the former governor in the Republican primary next year.

“[Virginians] are ready for a leader who will fight to rein in government, create more job opportunities and unleash our American energy sources,” Mr. Allen said in announcing his fundraising figures. “Our race will be hard fought and very likely determine control of the U.S. Senate and the direction of our country.”

The winner will likely face Tim Kaine, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who announced his candidacy last week.

Mr. Allen is expected to decisively win the primary and carries an overwhelming fundraising advantage. But as the underdog, Ms. Radtke is deriving her benchmark from Mr. Webbs successful campaign the last time the seat was up for election.

Before the November 2006 election, Mr. Allen raised about $2 million during the January to March filing period. Mr. Webb, a Democrat, raised only $150,000.

That discrepancy continued throughout the race, which Mr. Webb won with about half of the nearly $17 million pulled in by Mr. Allen.

Ms. Radtke said she expects to have slightly exceeded the $150,000 target she set for the first quarter when she announces final numbers later in the week. She said it puts her on a good track — especially because the general election isnt until next year.

Webb raised $150,000 and that was in the actual campaign year,” Ms. Radtke said. “Were an extra year out.”

She said she wasn’t discouraged by a March Public Policy Polling survey that gave her just 4 percent support among likely Republican voters, while Mr. Allen had the support of 67 percent.

“The only thing polling shows at this point is name ID,” Ms. Radtke said. “Its way too far out to make any determination.”

Mr. Allens rapidly expanding war chest keeps pace with forecasts that the race will set spending records, since it will likely result in a matchup between two former governors with extensive political connections and national ties.

Mr. Kaine is the only Democrat to declare his candidacy so far, although Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott is said to be contemplating a run. Another potential candidate has surfaced, with Fairfax consultant Courtney Lynch saying she may add her name to the ballot.

An ex-Marine, mother of three young children and co-founder of Lead Star consulting firm, Ms. Lynch, 36, said she will travel the state over the next few weeks before she makes her decision. She said she can bring diversity of thought to the mix as a woman, a political novice and someone whos always been fascinated by great leaders.

“I want to see if theres a place for me in the race,” Ms. Lynch said. “I offer the perspective of the average Virginian.”