** Former U.S. Navy Secretary James Webb has pulled up into a tie with Republican Senator George Allen in their hardfought race in Virginia. According to the Mason-Dixon poll, Webb, who trailed by double digits most of the year, now has 43% of the vote to Allen’s 43%. 57% of Virginians in the poll say America is on the wrong track, while only 29% say it is on the right track.
Allen, widely touted as a leading conservative challenger for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, had his hands full with Webb right along. Webb was one of the most highly decorated Marine Corps officers in the Vietnam War, having won the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for courage in combat, just behind the Medal of Honor. He also won a fistful of other medals. One of the most famous graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Webb emerged as perhaps the finest novelist of the Vietnam War, and is a top screenwriter and award-winning documentary filmmaker. He served as assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan before becoming secretary of the Navy. Webb became a Democrat because of his dismay over President George W. Bush‘s Iraq policy.
Allen, in contrast, inherited his fame as the son of a famous football coach. He’s actually a native Californian; his dad, George Allen, Sr., was coach of the Los Angeles Rams before moving east to take over the Washington Redskins. Allen entered Virginia politics and became governor before winning a seat in the Senate. He had a little problem, as you may have heard, last month, stupidly and repeatedly taunting a Webb campaign worker pointing a video camera at him. The Webb intern, an American citizen of Indian descent, was repeatedly derided as “macaca” — a term for which Allen and his frazzled campaign team have come up with a variety of non-credible explanations — before being told by the would-be presidential contender: “Welcome to America.”
Webb subsequently debated Allen on an airing of Meet the Press and wiped the floor with him.
** The LA Times poll released tomorrow will show a huge lead for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger over Democratic candidate Phil Angelides, 50% to 33%. The former action superstar’s job approval rating is up to a whopping 56%. Schwarzenegger is viewed as the superior leader by 60% of likely voters. Only 20% pick Angelides. Schwarzenegger also has a clear edge on integrity and trustworthiness, 43% to 25%. The former Mr. Universe also leads Angelides on all major issue areas.
** Although a panoply of some of the biggest movie stars in the world, including Tom Cruise, have come out against that proposed LNG (liquefied natural gas) platform near Malibu, some 14 miles off the coast, only Home Alone co-star Daniel Stern appeared with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides at his event yesterday announcing his opposition.
** That big Democratic wave predicted across America and through California? Not happening here. Most of the statewide Democratic candidates are in trouble. Only Jerry Brown and Bill Lockyer are in strong shape among the candidates for state constitutional office. (Dianne Feinstein is, of course, a shoo-in for U.S. Senate.)
Tom McClintock has a slight edge over John Garamendi for lieutenant governor, for example, reversing the Democrat’s previous 10-point lead. So sayeth a new LA Times poll, buttressing what has been reported here for weeks.
Meanwhile, with his Iraq War gambit falling flat, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides is returning to the Schwarzenegger tape fiasco, demanding that the governor release the rest of the audio tapes of private conversations that Angelides opppsition researchers surreptitiously obtained from the governor’s server. The Angelides camp only slipped one tape to the LA Times, which promptly slapped the take on the front page.
Are the above three paragraphs unconnected? Only in dreams.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices hover above sixty dollars per barrel. Economic growth has slowed, and Venezuela and Nigeria will reportedly cut production to maintain the price.