Former Virginia Senator George Allen tries a comeback

January 25, 2011

(Reuters) – Former senator George Allen is attempting a comeback six years after the Republican narrowly lost his seat to Democrat Jim Webb, following comments critics said were racist and that became viral on YouTube.

Allen announced he would run for his former seat in 2012 in an email to his supporters and on his website.

“Friends, it’s time for an American comeback,” Allen said in a video published on his website just before noon on Monday.

“Today, I’m announcing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate. You know me as someone willing to fight for the people of Virginia and I would like the responsibility to fight for you again.”

His video promises to run on a campaign based on what he called “foundational” principles, including reigning in government spending and creating jobs.

Allen, also a former governor of Virginia and the son of the legendary Washington Redskins football coach whose name he bears, had been favored to win the 2006 senate race over Webb and was expected to be a 2008 presidential contender.

But his campaign took a hit when he was recorded calling an Indian-American affiliated with his opponent “macaca,” a word for monkey. Allen denied he had intended an offense but critics said that and remarks he had made when younger were racist.

He ended up losing the race by around 9,000 votes.

Allen re-emerged in 2009 in a web campaign to fight Democratic energy bills and to support coal energy, and has taken other political steps to boost his political profile.

Democrats have already begun attacking Allen.

“George Allen’s offensive macaca moment will be the least of his worries,” said Eric Schultz, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson.

“Allen is a Republican establishment candidate who spent his years in Washington shilling for corporate interests, wildly spending taxpayer dollars, and racking up our national debt.”

Allen also can expect opposition for the Republican nomination. Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke, for one, has announced she will seek the party’s nod.

(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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