Allen's Campaign Is Nation's Worst, Insiders Say

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

(Editor's Note: Corrects reference to the Democratic Party in the 5th paragraph.)

( - Sen. George Allen of Virginia is running the worst campaign in the country, political insiders said in a poll released Saturday by the National Journal.

Fifty-three percent of Republican and 66 percent of Democratic "insiders" think George Allen's campaign is the sloppiest of the 2006 season, according to the survey of 138 political experts with campaign experience, insider knowledge and ties to key voting blocs.

Allen has suffered "numerous self-inflicted wounds," one Republican respondent said. "This onetime presidential wannabe has ushered himself off the national stage, and he will be lucky to win re-election."

A Democratic respondent said the race "should never have been in play. But Allen's ineptness and, frankly, stupidity, as well as the campaign's inability to dig itself out of the mess the candidate makes has been a textbook case of how not to run."

Allen, the former governor of Virginia, has been locked in a tight race with Democratic challenger Jim Webb, a former Navy Secretary who quit the Republican Party several years ago. After enjoying an early lead against Webb, Allen has seen his support fade to within various polls' margins of error. His slide began with charges of racism after Allen called a Webb staffer a "macaca."

Allen on Thursday criticized some sexually graphic excerpts of Webb's novels. Webb has called the criticism a "smear." It is not yet clear what, if any, impact Webb's fiction writing will have on his chances of unseating Allen.

The National Journal survey also listed Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida, Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, all Republicans, among this year's bad campaigners.

But on the flip side, the insiders (22 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats) named Tennessee Democrat Harold Ford as the year's best campaigner. Rep. Ford, the son of a former U.S. representative, is running against Republican Bob Corker for the Senate seat of Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is not seeking re-election.

"Harold Ford has taken what should have been a sure Republican seat and turned it into a horse race by emphasizing his moderate, middle-of-the-road positions," one Republican respondent said.

Conservatives have criticized Ford's "middle-of-the-road" campaign, saying he is not as moderate as he claims to be. Last week, pro-life demonstrators attempted to hold a news conference outside Ford's Memphis campaign headquarters to outline his pro-abortion voting record.

The event was disrupted by Ford's father, former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr., who accused the activists of being part of Corker's campaign and calling a local television station to tell them not to cover the news conference.

In the National Journal poll, Republicans also approved of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's campaign for the Senate. Steele, a Republican, is running against Rep. Ben Cardin, a Democrat.

The insiders noted that Steele "remains within striking distance in a blue state during a big Democratic year."

Earlier Stories:
Ford's Father Tries to Block Media Coverage of Pro-Life Event (Oct. 27, 2006)
Jim Webb's Books 'Racist, Misogynistic,' Conservative Critic Says (Oct. 27, 2006)
Webb Says His Novels 'Inappropriate' for News Radio

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