ByÂ Matthew Boyle – The Daily Caller
As the 2012 elections season gears up, Virginia is emerging as a clear Senate pickup opportunity forÂ Republicans. With Democratic Sen. Jim Webbâ€™s recent announcement that he will not seek reelection, former Republican Sen. George Allen has declared his intention to seek his old seat. But it wonâ€™t be an uncontested path to the nomination for Allen. Standing in his path is Tea Party-favorite Jamie Radtke.
Seen by some as a rising conservative star, Radtke has never held office before. Though that may be a disadvantage for some, for those in the Tea Party movement, it boosts their appeal. She also has a strong record as an effectiveÂ political organizer, having built most of the local activism in Virginiaâ€™s Tea Party movement.
Radtke, who aspires to be like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul or South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, seeks to present herself as Tea Party favorite and paint Allen as part of the establishment. Some influential beltway names are aiding her in shaping this narrative and throwing their support behind her, saying Allen represents the â€œold establishment.â€ Conservative strategist Richard Viguerie, the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, told The Daily Caller Radtke is â€œsharpâ€ and â€œknows the issues.â€
â€œJamie Radtke is a leader,â€ Viguerie said in a phone interview. â€œSheâ€™s young, sheâ€™s motivated to significantly reduce the size ofÂ government. I have not heard Allen talk about how he made mistakes and promises not to do it again.â€
By â€œmistakes,â€ Viguerie is referring to Allenâ€™s voting record in the Senate. He voted for No Child Left Behind and President George W. Bushâ€™s Medicare prescription drug program. RadtkeÂ has said Allenâ€™s voting record helped add $3.1 trillion to the national debt, including $90 billion in earmarks. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of reasons why Iâ€™m different than him,â€ she told TheDC
â€œThe first thing is I havenâ€™t been a politician for three decades,â€ she said. â€œI think people are really concerned about sending politicians back to D.C. who created the mess that weâ€™re now facing.â€
Another way Radtke is different from Allen is sheâ€™s likely to line up more with DeMint, Paul and Sens. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Mike Lee, Utah Republican. Allenâ€™s critics say heâ€™s more likely to play ball with the RepublicanÂ leadership.
Radtke is also a staunch defender of grassroots activism, and believes in the power of the Tea Party movement. â€œNot just in Virginia, but everywhere, there is no doubt that I believe that our salvation depends on the grassroots movement,â€ Radtke said. â€œThey will either continue to be committed and passionate and determined to keep their liberty and push government out of their lives or not. And, I believe that they are.â€
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