With a week to go until Election Day, Virginia’s Senate race remains one of the most watched in the country. Each party is fiercely fighting to take the seat that is being vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Jim Webb. Nearly $30 million has been raised between the two candidates and more than $40 million has been funneled into the race by outside groups.
This number from outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, is the most of any non-presidential race, and with Virginia being a highly-targeted swing state for the Senate and the White House, it’s no wonder the country is paying attention to the commonwealth.
Tim Kaine (D-VA) is attempting to retain the Democrat’s hold on the Senate seat. Kaine, who served as the 70th Governor of Virginia and also spent time as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is currently leading in the polls, but it is safe to say that the race is virtually tied. Kaine’s message on the economy and government spending very much mirrors that of President Barack Obama. Kaine has proposed a series of spending cuts and tax increases for taxpayers earning more than $500,000 annually. Kaine puts on his website regarding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): “I support the Affordable Care Act as a first step to put patients in charge of their health care decisions…” and he has also mentioned ending tax breaks for the five biggest U.S. oil companies.
On the opposing ticket, Republican George Allen hopes to once again hold the position as Senator after holding the position from 2000 to 2006 when he lost to Webb by one percentage point. Allen also served as the 65th Governor of the Commonwealth. As Kaine’s views closely align with Obama’s, Allen’s views are closely tied to those of GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Allen has advocated for a flat tax, a balanced budget amendment, and expanded oil exploration. Allen’s “Blueprint for America’s Comeback” pushes for cuts in Medicaid and other programs to control government spending. He also believes that Medicare should be overhauled to “protect the program from going broke.” Allen has also said, “Raising taxes doesn’t create any jobs, maybe at the IRS, but it doesn’t create jobs in the private sector. If you want more revenue, have a pro-growth agenda.”
One of the largest issues in the state of Virginia this election is automatic spending cuts set for January. These cuts are expected to hit Virginia hard as it is home to the Pentagon, military installations, and various Defense Department contractors. Currently, the defense cuts would amount to $55 billion annually. Many have blamed Barack Obama for the coming cuts, and many see that this could have an effect on the race for the Senate seat.
With the presidential race so close in the state and with each candidate being closely aligned with his respective party’s nominee, it is shaping up that whomever wins one race will likely win the other. Jennifer Duffy, an analyst at the Cook Political Report, said that this election in Virginia can be viewed as a referendum on the Senate candidates’ policies as they mirror the positions of the presidential candidates.
For more information on this race, Tim Kaine, and George Allen and to see who one of the largest newspapers in Virginia endorsed, see this Editorial from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.