Updated: 9:40 p.m. | Former Sen. George Allen easily won the Virginia Senate Republican primary today, putting him one step closer to reclaiming the seat he lost in 2006.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Allen led with 65 percent, followed by tea party leader Jamie Radtke with 23 percent, state Del. Bob Marshall with 7 percent and minister E.W. Jackson with 5 percent.
The end of the primary marks the official start of the long-expected matchup between Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, both former governors. Well before the three debates Allen held with his primary opponents in recent weeks, he and Kaine met for a debate at the state Capitol in December. They've both been touring the state for more than a year and focused their criticism on the other's record.
This GOP Senate primary was unlike other recent intraparty contests that featured an establishment candidate and conservative challengers. Although he was criticized by his opponents for his Senate record, Allen never had to withstand blowback from an outside group willing to spend significant resources to defeat him — such as in Texas, Indiana, Utah and Nebraska this cycle.
Allen has essentially been working the state for years now, but he never broke a sweat. His name ID and financial advantage overwhelmed his challengers and made the primary mostly a stepping stone for Allen's eventual general election contest with Kaine.
Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup.
“Today, thousands of Virginians sent a message to President Obama, Tim Kaine and their allies in Washington that they have had enough of the failed policies coming out of Washington," Allen said in a statement. "The way to get America creating jobs again is to reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit of America with pro-job growth policies, unleash our American energy resources and creativity, and rein in an overreaching, overspending federal government."
In a statement, Kaine congratulated Allen on his victory and said voters have a stark contrast among the two candidates.
"Voters already had the chance to experience George Allen's vision during his last term in the Senate, which turned record surpluses into massive deficits, added trillions to our debt, and put opportunity for a select few ahead of opportunity for all our businesses and families," he said. "George Allen's approach helped create our economic mess; Virginians can't afford six more years."