George Allen announced today that he has hired Mike Thomas — the man who ran his 1993 campaign for governor — to manage his attempt to regain the U.S. Senate seat he lost to Sen. Jim Webb (D) in 2006.
Thomas has been one of Allen’s closest political confidantes for the past two decades and putting him in charge of his political comeback is part of a conscious effort by Allen to return to the people who helped launched his political success.
Many longtime Allen allies blame 2006 campaign manager Dick Wadhams for the 2006, believing he mishandled reaction to Allen’s “macaca” misstep, in which the incumbent senator used the derisive term for a Webb staffer on a now famous video. Many also believe Allen’s staff were not familiar enough with Virginia, as he looked past the Senate race for a possible presidential bid.
“Mike understands campaigns are won with principles and ideas advocated at the local level, home by home,” Allen said in a statement about the hire. “Mike has the necessary experience and personal knowledge of Virginia, its people, and our values to lead our grass-roots insurgency. His addition makes our team even stronger, and together we will build a campaign focused on bringing Virginia’s voices, views and values back to the U.S. Senate.”
Allen also plans to locate his campaign headquarters in Richmond rather than Northern Virginia, as he did in 2006, in another attempt to signal that this year’s effort is more deeply rooted in the state.
Thomas served as state director and chief of staff to Allen while he was in the Senate. Since Allen’s 2006 defeat, he’s been a senior vice president at the McGuireWoods consulting firm. Allen’s campaign said Thomas will leave the job to run the campaign.
Allen is running to replace Webb, who has said he will not seek reelection. He faces tea party organizer Jamie Radtke in a Republican primary and possibly other candidates as well.
Democrats, meanwhile, wait to see whether former governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Timothy M. Kaine will run for the seat.