The frontrunner for the Republican nomination is former Sen. George Allen, who narrowly lost to Webb in a big upset in 2006 -- after he was videotaped by a Webb campaign tracker, who was Indian-American, calling the person "macaca". This was widely interpreted as being a somewhat obscure racial slur, often used by French colonists in Africa -- which was the background of Allen's mother.
Allen later claimed that he had never heard of the word or this particular meaning before, and that he had made it up, a claim that he continues to maintain.
A survey from late February by Public Policy Polling (D) had Kaine and Allen tied at 47%-47%.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick on the attack with this press release from communications director Brian Walsh, tying the DNC chair Kaine to President Obama. Key quote:
"Over the last several years, Tim Kaine has been the most vocal cheerleader in Washington for the reckless fiscal policies and massive expansion of government that have been the hallmark of the Obama Administration. And now Tim Kaine is staking his election hopes on this costly partisan agenda that has failed to create new jobs while driving our national debt past $14 trillion.
"It's an agenda Virginians have rejected overwhelmingly in two consecutive election cycles and there is no reason to believe they will not reject it again by sending a fiscally responsible, pro-jobs Republican to the U.S. Senate."
Late Update: The Allen campaign has released a statement from communications director Katie Wright. Key quote:
"George Allen stands for responsible, smarter government and helping families keep more of what they earn. Allen made job creation his number one priority, resulting in a record number of private sector jobs and investment in Virginia. Â He also worked to keep the Internet free of taxation while sponsoring meaningful reforms for Washington like the balanced budget amendment, line-item veto authority and paycheck penalty for Congress.
"While Chairman Kaine may try to paint a different picture of his tenure as Governor, it was marked by his proposals calling for staggering tax increases and by substantial job losses for Virginians. Â As Chairman, Kaine stood with his liberal Washington allies like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi as they imposed their harmful agenda on Virginia and America, making trillion dollar deficits the norm and loading our children with the burden of an unprecedented national debt.