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Correction to This Article
In some Nov. 12 editions, a photo caption with a Metro article incorrectly said that Sen.-elect James Webb (D-Va.) was shown in Alexandria. He was at Dulles International Airport.

Webb May Be Senate Maverick

James Webb, shown arriving in Alexandria for an election-eve rally,
James Webb, shown arriving in Alexandria for an election-eve rally, "will be a much better and happier senator than senatorial candidate," said former Virginia lieutenant governor Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D). "I don't think he is a natural candidate, but he is very bright, strong-principled and apparently fearless." (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

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By Tim Craig and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 12, 2006

James Webb walked into the Fish Market restaurant in Alexandria in December and wanted longtime Democratic strategist Steve Jarding to answer just one question: What were his chances of defeating Sen. George Allen (R), one of Virginia's most popular politicians?

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"Give me a number. What are my odds?" Webb, who had never run for elective office, asked.

"I said, 'Jim, they are really low,' " Jarding recalled. Webb shot back, "Give me a number."

After Jarding said "15 percent," Webb confidently said, "If I have that much of a chance, I will take it and win."

Webb's long shot paid off last week as he unseated Allen after a bruising campaign, giving Democrats control of the Senate.

With the campaign having centered on Allen's gaffes as much as it did on Webb's views on issues, few know what to expect when the former Marine and novelist enters the nation's most exclusive club, where the art of the deal rules the day.

But Webb, a former Republican and Reagan administration official, said he might be a bit of a maverick in the Senate, which could frustrate Democratic leaders who poured more than $6 million into his campaign.

"I have my own views, and I have a lot of experiences, and I think I can bring the experiences I had to issues rather than having to read off a party briefing sheet," Webb said Friday in an interview.

Webb said he will model himself after former New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D), whom he described as someone "who had government experience that was shaped by the intellectual world."

But being a senator can be as much about politics as policy, and Webb on the campaign trail was almost the antithesis of the typical politician.

Webb was nervous in front of large crowds, couldn't understand why people wanted to shake his hand and hated asking people for money. He even turned down checks from people he didn't think could afford to give up, as he called it, "their gas money."

Until a few months ago, he would walk down the center of the street during a parade instead of zigzagging the route to shake hands. When he got tired, he refused to make fundraising calls or he took time off. That's what he did when he decided not to visit churches the Sunday before the election.


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