Cooler Profile- George Allen
Bio: George Allen has never shied away from a challenge in his political career. He first won a seat in the House of Delegates in 1983, unseating an incumbent Democrat near liberal Charlottesville. It is the same seat that was held by Thomas Jefferson. In 1991, Allen won a special election to replace Democrat D. French Slaughter in the U.S. Congress. In 1992 after a round of redistricting, Allen's was lumped into the same district as a more senior Republican. Instead of Primarying, Allen left the House and decided to run for Governor against the sitting Lt. Governor in 1993. Allen was down in the polls by as much as 17 points in the summer- only to rally to a resounding victory. Then in 2000, Allen successfully defeated sitting Senator Chuck Robb, son in law of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
In '04 Allen was the head of the NRSC, Republicans picked up 4 seats that year and it allowed Allen to create the nation-wide network he would need for his bid at the Presidency.
But this year, Allen has a hurdle larger than he initially anticipated- and for once he is not the challenger. After avoiding a challenge from enormously popular Governor Mark Warner, who is making a Presidential bid of his own, it seemed Allen would have an easy waltz in November. But out of the woodwork came former Navy Secretary James H. Webb. Webb is very popular with the Democratic base and this race will get a lot of national attention. Allen won't likely have the waltz to victory in November he expected- especially given the poor political climate for Republicans nationally.
Key Players: The Allen Presidential ship will be guided by Dick Wadhams, a veteran political operative. Wadhams was a longtime strategist in Colorado. He guided Sen. Wayne Allard to narrow victories in 96 and 02 and headed Governor Bill Owens campaign in 98. In 04 he went to South Dakota and made a name for himself nationally, leading Senator John Thune to a victory over Senate Maj. Leader Tom Daschle. Wadhams is brash and creative, great with the media and an unconventional strategist. Along with him is Chris Lacivita. Lacivita is a long-time Allen aide, having worked on his gubernatorial bid in 93. He was the chief advisor for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and has Iowa connections having worked for DCI. Regarded as a master of the "niche media", LaCivita is one of the most well-regarded strategists in GOP circles. He has added Ed Gillespie to his PAC as fundraising director. Gillespie was formerly chair of the RNC. He is very close to Mary Matalin and will likely have her on board as well. He also will have Jason Miller to head his SC team. Miller is currently running Mark Sanford's campaign.
Iowa: No staff as of yet. There are some rumors out there, but nothing more than that.
Strengths: Viewed as the most reliable conservative out of the serious contenders (depending on whether you view Huckabee as serious). Has vulnerability on abortion, but so do the four ranked above him on the cooler line. Strong national political organization. If he can stay viable until South Carolina, he will be in great shape.
Weaknesses: While the rest can campaign through November, Allen has a pesky Dem opponent on his hands, which will also hamper his fundraising capabilities. The “Do we really want another Southerner named George” factor. Doesn't seem to be locking up the Bush loyalists that he will need to be successful. Hasn't spent much time in Iowa and won't be able to until November; he'll have a lot of catching up to do.