All of the competition

Published 11:34 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When Virginia voters go to the polls in November, they will choose between two candidates hoping to become the state’s next U.S. senator, replacing Sen. Jim Webb, who has announced he will leave office come January.

Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, both of whom have served the commonwealth as governor in past years, are doing everything in their power to convince voters that theirs will be the two names on the ballot. They’ve received help in that regard from every news organization around the state that has accepted their candidacy as a done deal, including the Associated Press, which held a debate in December and invited only Allen and Kaine to participate.

The dark secret in both campaigns, however, is that neither man is guaranteed to be the one his party chooses for the job. Both must be picked by voters during primaries to be held on June 12. Surely, both are considered front-runners for the respective nominations by Republicans and Democrats, but it would be putting the cart somewhat ahead of the horse to consider them shoo-ins for the candidacy.


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On the Republican side, Allen has opposition from tea party activist Jamie Radtke, Hampton Roads minister E.W. Jackson Sr. and Virginia Beach attorney David McCormick. Democrats lined up against Kaine include Fairfax consultant Courtney Lynch and Reston businessman Julien Modica.

On Tuesday, the Suffolk News-Herald ran a story about Allen’s campaign. Late last year, a story appeared in these pages about McCormick. And we plan similar stories about Jackson and Radtke on the GOP side and about all three Democratic candidates, as well. Look for them in the coming weeks.

It seems highly unlikely that the only good ideas about how to solve our nation’s problems are those that come from the old, familiar political faces. Though they perhaps are alike in no other way, members of the Tea Party on the right and followers of the “Occupy” movement on the left prove there are plenty of ideas and an abundance of energy among those who traditionally would be considered outsiders to the political process. That those outsiders — and others of various political stripes — are now demanding to be heard is a sign of the discontent that so many Americans have with the process.

After the June 12 primaries, it may well be that the names put forward for the November ballot are the old, familiar ones. But if you plan to take part in one of those primaries, at least make your vote an informed one. Check out all of the competition, and then choose.