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Obama-Romney battle puts Senate race in Virginia in 'eye of the storm'

With Senate primary victories on Tuesday, George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D) will battle for a seat that could swing control of the Senate – in a state that could swing control of the White House.

By Staff writer / June 13, 2012

Former US Sen. George Allen celebrates with his wife, Susan (l.), and daughter, Tyler (r.), in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday after securing a Republican primary win for US Senate.

Steve Helber/AP

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Richmond, Va.

A day that began as a soggy general election send-off for George Allen’s US Senate campaign ended with the former Virginia governor beaming from a Richmond stage to the soft twang of George Jones’s “The Race is On.”

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The race is on, indeed.

Mr. Allen, who won Virginia’s Republican nomination by a wide margin Tuesday, heads into a fall matchup with fellow former governor Tim Kaine (D) that is expected to be one of the most tightly contested, expensive, and pivotal Senate races of 2012.

“Virginia is going to be in the eye of the political storm,” Allen said Tuesday night.

Between Tuesday and Election Day, both Senate candidates will attempt to ride the wake of a presidential campaigns that will put large amounts of resources into the Old Dominion. At the same time, Republicans and Democrats face questions about how their presidential nominees will relate to key parts of their base come November.

As Allen put it Tuesday: "The world's controlled by those who show up."

Allen, who lost his Senate seat in 2006, turned up at a half-dozen polling places Tuesday, meeting with handfuls of voters dribbling in to cast their ballots under gray skies and drizzle across most of the Commonwealth. A rainy Tuesday in June doesn’t scream political season to many Virginians, many of whom have already gone through a presidential primary and city elections this year.

But when polls closed, Allen prevailed over tea party leader Jamie Radtke, anti-abortion warrior and state Delegate Bob Marshall, and Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson. Allen claimed more than 65 percent of the 255,000 votes cast. Ms. Radtke took 23 percent, followed by Mr. Marshall and Mr. Jackson at 6.7 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.

With only 5.4 percent of registered voters turning up to cast their ballots, Tuesday’s sleepy primary did, however, eclipse the state’s last Senate primary in terms of voter participation. When now-Sen. Jim Webb (D) defeated attorney Harris Miller in 2006 with 53 percent of the more than 155,000 votes cast, only 3.4 percent of voters turned out.

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