- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

The two Democrats vying to unseat Sen. George Allen have spent more than $1 million leading up to today’s Democratic primary in Virginia.

The outcome will show how well Harris N. Miller, a former information-technology executive from McLean, and James H. Webb Jr., former Navy secretary under President Reagan, have pinpointed who will turn out at the polls today.

“You can’t predict it,” Mr. Webb, a decorated Vietnam War veteran from Falls Church, told The Washington Times last month.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Both campaigns agree it is tough to forecast who will show up at the polls because voter turnout in primaries tends to be low. For example, in the 2005 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, 115,379 people voted, which was less than 3 percent of the 4.4 million registered voters in Virginia.

Kristian Denny-Todd, a spokeswoman for Mr. Webb, said it also is difficult to target voters because Virginia does not require voters to register with a party, so anyone from any party can vote. And there have been a limited number of statewide Democratic primaries for federal office.

“It’s not easy in Virginia,” Mrs. Denny-Todd told The Times. “These kinds of primaries are few and far between.”

That means “there is a huge influence to be had with a good get-out-the-vote operation,” said Taylor West, a spokeswoman for Mr. Miller.

Both camps have analyzed poll numbers in previous primary elections and the 2004 presidential election, and taken into account an estimated 500,000 residents who moved to Virginia since Mr. Allen was elected in 2000.

“There is also a little bit of extra attention because of George Allen, who might run for president,” Mrs. Denny-Todd said.

“So we make the assumption that a few more people might come out because George Allen has voted for [President] Bush 97 percent of the time.”

Both campaigns have scrambled to raise money. As of May 25, Mr. Miller had raised $1.2 million — of which $675,000 is his own money — and Mr. Webb has raised $547,000 — which includes a $100,000 loan.

The winner of today’s primary will face an uphill battle against Mr. Allen, who has more than $7 million in his campaign war chest. Independent Green Party candidate Gail Parker, a retired federal employee from Alexandria, also is running.

In other primaries today, Democrats Andrew L. Hurst and Ken Longmyer face off for their party’s nomination to run against Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, and Republicans Mark W. Ellmore and Tom M. O’Donoghue will challenge each other for their party’s nomination to try to unseat Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat.

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