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Virginia Democrat: Allen Could Lose GOP Primary

Updated, 10:04 p.m.

RICHMOND, Va. — Rep. Bobby Scott has some advice for ex-Sen. George Allen as the Republican tries to mount a comeback Senate bid in Virginia: Don’t get too confident.

The Virginia Democrat told Roll Call that Allen shouldn’t count on winning the Republican Senate nomination in 2012 even though the former Senator and governor remains popular with the state’s GOP. Allen has at least one challenger so far in the primary contest, tea party leader Jamie Radtke, and a conservative state delegate may also jump in the race.

Roll Call chatted with Scott at the Virginia Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraising dinner Saturday night. Scott said he thinks any Democrat who opts to run in the open Senate race could topple a Republican in the general election. Like many of the other Democrats here at the annual dinner, he’s hoping Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine will jump in.

Scott compared Allen to former Rep. Mike Castle, who had never lost a race in Delaware until he was defeated in a Republican Senate primary by Christine O’Donnell last summer.

“Castle was John Warner strong,” Scott said, referring to former Sen. John Warner (Va.), a moderate Republican who rarely had competitive races here.

“Castle was a lot stronger in Delaware than George Allen is in Virginia, and he lost by 10 points,” Scott told Roll Call.

Actually, O’Donnell beat Castle by just more than 6 points. There’s also a big difference between the states – only registered Republicans could vote in the Delaware primary while Virginians do not register by party. Delaware has far fewer self-identified Republicans than Virginia, and Castle won in Delaware in part because he had a moderate record. Allen is no moderate, and there’s also a history of underdogs fizzling out in Virginia primaries.

Either way, “I don’t think anyone should plan on who the GOP nominee will be,” Scott said.

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