My TAC colleague James Antle takes a look at James Webb — an Annapolis grad, Vietnam vet, Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, and accomplished author now running against Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen. His first hurdle is the Democratic primary on June 12, where Webb will face tech lobbyist Harris Miller, who has been baiting Webb over his Republican-like past. (Not only did he serve in the Reagan administration, Webb endorsed Allen for Senate in 2000. But he endorsed the Democrat Allen defeated, Chuck Robb, in 1994, when Robb was opposed by Oliver North, with whom Webb has a bit of history.)
Antle refrains from handicapping the primary. My guess is that Webb will cruise to victory by a pretty substantial margin. Miller, last time I checked, had somewhat more endorsements from state Democratis than Webb, who has much more support from national Democrats (including Tom Daschle and Harry Reid). I have some roundabout channels to a few grassroots Virginia Democratic activists, though, and the impression I get from them is that they're leaning heavily toward Webb and have the organization and muscle to ensure him a victory. Webb's a populist rather than a typical liberal, and with Mudcat Saunders and Steve Jarding — the masterminds behind Mark Warner's gubernatorial win in 2001 — advising his campaign, Webb has the demeanor, the platform, and the know-how to appeal to "country" Democrats beyond Northern Virginia. I'll make an off-the-cuff prediction of a 60%-40% Webb win in the primary. Then the real fun begins.
I'll be voting for Webb myself in the June 12 primary and, if he wins, again in November. I'm sufficiently appalled by what the Republicans have done to the country over the past decade, and especially during the Bush years, that I'm fully prepared to vote for the other team of crooks. I started in 2004, in fact — although I declined to vote for my Democratic congressman, James Moran, despite his stand against the Iraq War, because he was, and is, a leading proponent of national ID regulations.
Webb is solid on the 2nd amendment and decent on a few other issues, but of course, the chances are that he'll turn out to be a might great statist in his own right should he actually defeat Allen. But just about anything's better than a carbon copy of George W. Bush, which is what Allen is, and what's more, Webb is a loose cannon who might make political life in the upper chamber a little more volatile than it's been in a good long time.