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“She ought to be going around and establishing her credentials,” Mr. Goldman said. “Why couldn’t anybody get up and say what she says?”

Mr. Allen, who is viewed positively by a solid chunk of GOP voters, is too popular for Mrs. Radtke to destroy with attacks, Mr. Goldman said.

“If you start saying things about someone people like, they’re going to turn against you,” Mr. Goldman added.

But Mrs. Radtke is depending on what she sees as a lack of enthusiasm for George Allen among Republican voters who are sympathetic to tea party values.

He’s running in “shades of gray,” while voters are looking for a candidate with “bold colors,” she said.

“We’ve done internal polling, so we know people are looking for an alternative,” she said. “The challenge and the goal for us is to let people know there is an alternative.”