- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2005

The gubernatorial election Tuesday in Virginia is as much about Gov. Mark Warner and U.S. Sen. George Allen as it is about the candidates.

A win by Republican Jerry W. Kilgore would help top supporter Mr. Allen, a Virginia Republican who faces re-election next year.

A win for Democrat Timothy M. Kaine would further the presidential ambitions of Mr. Warner, a Democrat.

Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Kaine remain very close in the polls. A statewide Rasmussen Reports survey released yesterday to The Washington Times showed Mr. Kaine with a three percentage point lead, a one-point increase since the firm’s Oct. 27 poll.

The margin of error is three points, so the candidates remain deadlocked.

With the race so tight, the four men will remain on the campaign trail into the final weekend.

Though the results Tuesday will neither make nor break Mr. Allen or Mr. Warner, either would indeed profit from a party victory, said Toni-Michelle Travis, professor of government and politics at George Mason University.

“A Kaine win gives Warner a platform to say his ideas were the direction Virginia should be going in,” she said. “The stakes are higher for Warner because he has no other experience.”

Prior to being elected governor, Mr. Warner, a telecommunications mogul, had never held political office.

Mr. Allen, who also has presidential ambitions, will be at Mr. Kilgore’s side for at least five get-out-the-vote rallies today and tomorrow.

Among the stops will be tailgate parties Sunday night at the Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles game in Landover. Mr. Allen’s father, of the same name, was coach of the Redskins from 1971 to 1977.

Allen staffers said the senator will also be with Mr. Kilgore on Monday and Tuesday, unless he must return to Capitol Hill to vote.

Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine will host a party tonight in Old Town Alexandria. And they will spend tomorrow together in southwest Virginia.

Mr. Warner won the region in 2001 and Mr. Kilgore is from there, which makes the visit even more critical.

On Sunday, the governor will campaign for Mr. Kaine separately in Richmond, Winchester and Charlottesville. They will meet Monday morning for a rally in Roanoke.

Mr. Warner had a 72 percent approval rating in the most recent Rasmussen poll. He had a 74 percent approval rating in a Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. poll in late July, the highest any governor has had in the 20 years the company has conducted polling.

A Rasmussen poll taken in September showed Mr. Allen, a former Virginia governor, with a 62 percent favorable rating.

Kaine spokesman Delacey Skinner said the polls show voters overwhelmingly feel the state is headed in the right direction.

“Mark Warner has done an incredible job with the state and he’s worked closely with Tim Kaine on that process of moving Virginia forward,” she said. “And Virginians know it.”

Mr. Allen and Mr. Kilgore have a long political history.

Mr. Kilgore served as Mr. Allen’s secretary of public safety when he was governor in the early 1990s.

Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Mr. Kilgore was “part of a lot of the important work that went on during the Allen administration” and that Mr. Allen’s support is now “key.”

Mr. Allen has avoided talking about his presidential ambitions, but political insiders rank him as an early party favorite for the 2008 Republican nomination.

Earlier this year, Mr. Warner decided he would not challenge Mr. Allen for his Senate seat next year. He has dodged questions about his political future but has said he has not ruled out running for president in 2008 or running for governor again in 2009.

The Virginia Constitution prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms. They can sit out one term and run again, though only one former governor has done so.

This year, Mr. Warner asked a former adviser to former Vice President Al Gore to help him explore future options and established an exploratory committee for seeking federal office.

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