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Some have suggested that more hats in the race could benefit Mr. Allen by breaking up the opposition vote in the Republican primary. If he carries the day, he likely will be running against former Gov. Tim Kaine, who is said to be close to announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination after Sen. Jim Webb declined to run for a second term.

According to the first poll on the race, Mr. Allen could be in good shape for the primary. Public Policy Polling, a liberal-leaning firm that collects data through robocalls instead of live interviews, released a survey showing Mr. Allen with 67 percent support from “usual Republican primary voters.”

Mr. Marshall earned a distant second, with 7 percent, while Ms. Radtke received 4 percent and 3 percent apiece went to Mr. McCormick and Mr. Stewart. In a hypothetical matchup with Mr. Kaine, each candidate received 47 percent.

Mr. Allen brushed off the poll, opting instead to bemoan what he sees as a loss of American competitiveness driven by federal overspending.

“I don’t believe that our country should continue declining without opportunities for young people to fulfill their American dreams,” Mr. Allen said.

Nothing for granted

Considering the way Mr. Allen’s last race went, it’s not surprising that he isn’t touting his front-runner status. In June 2006, he enjoyed a 20-point lead over Mr. Webb. The lead fell to 10 points the next month, and some polls showed Mr. Webb ahead by the end of August.

It was downhill quickly after Mr. Allen made his infamous “macaca” faux pas in which he applied what some say was a racial slur to an Indian-American working for Mr. Webb’s campaign. Mr. Webb ended up winning the race by fewer than 10,000 votes.

Mr. Allen isn’t straying far from the talking points these days.

He didn’t have much to say about a likely race against Mr. Kaine other than to assert that it will most certainly be a tough and a close race. In his position as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Kaine has had to defend national Democratic leaders whose policies have, at times, been less than popular.

As former governors, both candidates would have plenty of records to examine.

“People will see Allen’s here, Kaine’s here,” Mr. Allen said. “People at their kitchen tables will ask who is closer to how we look at it.”

But it’s clear that Mr. Allen is ready to link Mr. Kaine to Washington - ironic, perhaps, since Mr. Kaine has never held national public office, compared with Mr. Allen’s combined eight years in the House and Senate.

“I know that as soon as this primary’s over we need to be united to beat the Washington liberals,” Mr. Allen said.