- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2011

President Obama’s political arm is already flexing in Virginia as he looks to repeat a historic 2008 victory in a state that could make or break his bid for a second term.

Mr. Obama’s Democratic campaign committee, Organizing for America (OFA), on Saturday held what it described as a national “day of action” across the country that included 30 events in Virginia, with volunteers across the state canvassing, registering and re-registering voters.

“As we did this past weekend with our day of action, we are continuing to build up our infrastructure and create the strongest organization possible,” said Brandyn Keating, OFA’s Virginia state director. “The day of action events that took place in every corner of the state were just the latest in our efforts to ramp up our grass-roots support across the commonwealth moving forward to the coming elections.”

In Virginia, the timing for the event was apropos. The Democratic Party of Virginia, in concert with OFA and the Virginia Young Democrats, held a summit in Richmond over the weekend to help train volunteers, prepare potential candidates for future runs for office, and hone the message for upcoming campaigns.

More than 500 people attended, said Brian Coy, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia - which shares a Richmond building with OFA.

The party, though, is in a much different place than in 2008, when Mr. Obama became the first Democrat to carry the state since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. In 2009, Republicans swept the top three statewide elected offices, and in 2010 the GOP flipped three congressional seats in the state.

Virginia broke 53 percent to 46 percent for Mr. Obama in 2008, but in the midst of a weak economy, the state’s voters are split at 47 percent on whether he deserves re-election, according to a June 30 poll by Quinnipiac University.

And Republicans, though not yet settled on a nominee for 2012, are casting their gaze on the commonwealth.

“Virginia is undoubtedly a very important battleground state that Republicans will focus on with significant resources and manpower to make Barack Obama a one-term president,” said Ryan Tronovitch, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “Unfortunately for voters across our nation, a day of action headed by Obama for America will do nothing to fix President Obama’s failures on the economy and put Americans back to work.”

Mr. Obama’s performance in 2012 could also help determine the down-ballot race for retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Webb’s seat, where two former Virginia governors, Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine - who also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee under Mr. Obama - are on a likely collision course.

That same poll put the two in a statistical dead heat, with Mr. Kaine at 43 percent and Mr. Allen at 42 percent.

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