- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Former Sen. George Allen yesterday said he has no plans to run for Virginia governor next year, putting off a political comeback anticipated by many Republicans.

“Having learned from past experiences, to allow such speculation to linger would be unwise and unfair when an honest statement of intentions is the right way to conduct one”s life,” said Mr. Allen, a Republican. “Therefore, I will not be a candidate for governor in 2009.”

Mr. Allen, who was governor from 1994 to 1998 and a U.S. senator from 2001 until last year, said he has enjoyed spending time with his three children and his wife, Susan, and that he is in no rush to return to the campaign trail.

“There are things we have done this year that if I was in office, there is no way we would have those experiences,” he said. “I know what a statewide election is like. I realize what it takes. You are on the road easily six days a week.”

Many Republicans saw Mr. Allen as the best chance to reclaim the governor’s office, which has been held by Democrats since 2002. But with yesterday’s announcement, attention turns to a prospective Republican nomination fight between Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who have both expressed interest in the job.

“Frankly it surprised me,” Mr. Bolling said. “Had he chosen to run for governor, I would not have opposed him. Now that he has made this decision, it obviously means we have decisions to make.”

Both Mr. Bolling and Mr. McDonnell complimented Mr. Allen’s record as Virginia’s 67th governor, crediting him with successfully pushing welfare reform, eliminating parole and instituting truth-in-sentencing regulations. Mr. Bolling dubbed Mr. Allen the “patriarch of the modern Republican Party in Virginia” while Mr. McDonnell called him “the most effective and revolutionary governor of our lifetime.”

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Bath Democrat, surprised many by announcing his candidacy last month — nearly two years before votes will be cast in the general election. State House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian J. Moran of Alexandria also has shown signs that he is considering a gubernatorial run.

Mr. Allen said the likely Republican candidates have the advantage in a statewide race.

“I’m sure Deeds is well-known in his district and Moran is well-known in his district,” he said. “But if one compares those two to Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell, who have both been elected statewide, I look at [McDonnell and Bolling] as having a leg up.”

Asked about Mr. Allen’s decision not to run for governor, Deeds spokesman Peter Jackson dismissed the former governor’s chances.

“Virginia has really been moving forward in the last couple years, and George Allen has been seen by many Democrats, independents and even Republicans as a relic of the past,” he said.

After Mr. Allen left the Senate, he joined the Ronald Reagan Ranch as a presidential scholar. In May, he formed the Good Government Action Fund, a political action committee, to help Virginia Republicans running in General Assembly races.

He also started blogging at www.GeorgeAllen.com — at one point sharing dispatches from a cross-country road trip that he made this summer with his 16-year-old son, Forrest.

For now, the announcement caps a disappointing political period for Mr. Allen, who a little more than a year ago was thought to be a front-runner for the Republican nomination for president.

However, things could change after 2009.

“As far as elected office in the future, this statement is related to 2009 not being the right time,” he said.

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