Richmond tea party founder Jamie Radtke has finally officially put her hat in the ring to run against Sen. George Allen for the GOP nomination to run against Sen. Jim Webb in 2012.
Webb, famously, hasn't announced that he's running for re-election yet and Allen hasn't formally announced that he's going to enter the race, but the re-match of the 2006 campaign has been brewing for at least a couple of years.
Now Radtke is entering the fray early filing paperwork likely in hopes of raising her name recognition over the next 14 months to gear up for the GOP primary. Radtke has made waves organizing the tea party convention in Richmond and helping join together a collection of the groups that have popped up.
For Allen the challenge forces him to pay attention to the conservative side of the spectrum and not just lob firebombs at Webb and the Democrats. It'll also force Allen to do a lot of explaining about his record instead of just taking potshots from the sidelines.
It also has the potential to sharpen Allen's teeth, because 2012 could be a tough race to run. Barack Obama is back on the ballot and Gov. Bob McDonnell will be in the final year of is term. That means eyes are going to turn to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. It's going to be very interesting to see how those three men treat this race - and how active or inactive they are in supporting Allen.
Anita Kumar at the Washington Post has an nice look at what conservatives are unhappy with when they look back through Allen's stint as governor and as Senator. And also how Allen views those critiques.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Allen said his conservatism has not changed since Ronald Reagan first inspired him to get into politics in 1976. Three decades ago, the man who would eventually hold Thomas Jefferson's seat in the Virginia General Assembly was known as a "rebel" and an "insurgent."
"Some of the things they are saying - it is laughable when you look at my record," said Allen, 58, a former congressman and governor.
But Radtke could face a tough race for the Republican nomination.
Former governor and senator, George Allen, has expressed interest in running for the seat he lost to Webb in 2006, and an Allen-Radtke race could be polarizing within Virginia's Republican Party. Allen has many longtime supporters in the Old Dominion but some in the Tea Party point to his stint in the Senate, saying he is partly responsible for uncontrolled spending and the ballooning national debt.
Both issues are at the top of Radtke's agenda, and she says debating them is good for Virginia Republicans.
"In the Senate George Allen voted for over 40,000 earmarks costing over $90 billion," she said. "But those are issues that need to be debated. And I don't think that is harmful. Debates over issues are a sign of strength - not weakness - in our party."