With the uncertainty surrounding Virginia Sen. Jim Webb’s intentions and former Republican Sen. George Allen firing his first direct shot last week, Roll Call Politics has moved the Democratic seat into the more competitive Tossup category.
When the politics team first ranked the race, it was in the Leans Democratic category. See all of our rankings here.
Democrats could have a difficult time holding this seat even if Webb decides to run. In the past year, Republicans ended a streak of disappointing election cycles. The GOP swept the statewide offices in 2009 and won back three House seats in 2010.
The state party is now aiming for the Democrat-controlled state Senate in the 2011 elections and Webb and the state’s 13 electoral votes in the 2012 elections.
Allen has made his intention to run clear for months by speaking to any Republican gathering around the state that invited him. He also made a big splash at the party’s annual meeting at a Northern Virginia hotel last month by renting out the entire restaurant to host a party — while most potential candidates rented suites.
But Allen’s most overt move yet came last week when he released a statement criticizing two of Webb’s recent Senate votes. Allen said Webb sided with “Washington liberals” over the interests of the state and attempted to pit him against popular Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
Meanwhile, Webb still has not said whether he intends to run for re-election, though he has been raising money. He had $470,000 in the bank at the end of September after raising more than $330,000 in the first nine months of 2010. His spokesman hasn't indicated which way Webb is leaning or when he’ll make a decision.