George Allen has agreed to appear in three primary debates next year, guaranteeing that he will share the stage with his rivals in the contest for the Republican nomination in the race to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D-Va.).
With a massive lead in polls, fundraising and name recognition in the primary, Allen has mostly avoided engaging with the other Republican candidates in the race, choosing instead to focus on fellow former governor Timothy M. Kaine, the near-certain Democratic nominee. Allen and Kaine are scheduled to debate Dec. 7 in Richmond, an event that will likely exclude other candidates from both parties.
Last week, the Republican Party of Virginia announced it would sponsor three debates next year: one in April in Roanoke, one in May in Northern Virginia and another in May in Hampton Roads. The party invited all candidates who qualify for the ballot, including Allen as well as former Virginia Tea Party Patriots head Jamie Radtke, businessman Timothy Donner, lawyer David McCormick and minister E.W. Jackson.
Frontrunners often prefer fewer debates while challengers are eager for more, and Radtke sent out a press release last week questioning whether Allen would “find a way to skip these debates.”
Apparently not, as Allen informed the RPV in a letter Monday that he had agreed to the three debates. “We look forward to discussing our positive solutions for Virginians and our Country,” the campaign wrote.