Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) will not attend Wednesday's Shad Planking, the state's largest annual political event.
According to a schedule released by his campaign, Kaine will instead attend an economic roundtable with female business and community leaders near Richmond at the time of the event. He'll attend another roundtable event with veterans and military families in Norfolk earlier in the day and hold a tele-town hall Wednesday evening.
Kaine's likely Republican opponent, George Allen, a former governor and Senator, was named the keynote speaker at the 64th annual Shad Planking, which is held deep in the woods of Wakefield and is the unofficial kickoff of the election year. It includes joke-filled speeches and oily fish cooked on wooden planks above hot coals, and allows the hundreds of attendees a close look at the candidates.
The Washington Post reported last month that Allen would speak and that the event's organizers said the Kaine campaign declined an offer to do the same. The Kaine campaign did not comment on that in a statement today.
"Governor Kaine has already campaigned in the region, as recently as last week, and will campaign again there many times between now and Election Day," Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said in a statement. "Tomorrow, he'll be meeting with veterans and military families in Hampton Roads and women business leaders in Chesterfield working to expand the strong coalition we've already built that will help us win in November."
Kaine did not attend last year's event either, which took place just a couple of weeks after he entered the race. Allen and his leading primary opponent at the time, tea party leader Jamie Radtke, wooed voters at last year's event.
Allen and Kaine are running to succeed retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D), who defeated Allen in 2006. Most public polling has found the race within the margin of error. Allen has a June 12 primary to get through first.