Allen’s Virginia primary victory sets up showdown with Kaine

Mr. Goldman said both men have run effective campaigns thus far — each, necessarily, in their own unique ways. He recalled being puzzled when Mr. Allen showed up to appear with him on an education panel in the Richmond area a few years ago, when he had all but announced he would be running in 2012.

“I didn’t appreciate the importance of what he was doing,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, you’re running for Senate and you’re going to drive 4 1/2 hours to talk to a handful of people?’”

But, Mr. Goldman later realized that was exactly what Mr. Allen needed at the time.

“He was basically saying, ‘I’ve been governor, I’ve been senator, but I’ll go anywhere and talk to anyone … even if I have to drive myself,’” he said. “Something very few politicians who have been big-shots have done. Now, I’m thinking that proved that he was hungry. I think he needed to do that.”

Both sides are counting on voters forgetting — or at least not fixating on — portions of their respective records. Mr. Allen has been dinged for votes he took to increase the debt ceiling and to raise his salary when he served in the Senate, and Mr. Kaine has faced the criticism for the amount of time he spent conducting DNC business during his last year as Virginia governor.

To some extent, however, their fate will be out of their own hands, as Mr. Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney set their sights on Virginia’s 13 electoral votes up for grabs in November. Mr. Obama became the first Democrat in more than 40 years to carry the state in 2008. He’s hoping to repeat that performance, while Republicans chalk it up as an anomaly, arguing that Mr. Obama’s positive message in 2008 has not translated to his job performance.

“‘Hope and change’ has become ‘division and recession,’” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a lead surrogate for Mr. Romney. “There’s a lot of rhetoric and very few results out of this administration, and I intend to tell people what the federal policies over the last couple of years have done to Virginia — unfunded mandates, horrible policies for our energy industry.”

“But overall, I think there’s no question the presidential election will drive a lot of voters to the polls,” he continued. “In some measure, certainly, the Allen-Kaine outcome will be determined by how well Romney does in Virginia.”

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