BY WESLEY P. HESTER
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has endorsed George Allen, who’s seeking to reclaim the senate seat he lost to Jim Webb in 2006.
Coburn is a fiscal and social conservative known for his stubborn opposition to federal spending and earmarks. He was a member of the “Gang of Six” deficit reduction group founded by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va.
In a statement, Coburn said Allen “was one of only 14 senators who stood with me when I led the effort to eliminate funding for the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. It didn’t make us popular with many of our colleagues but we did what was right.”
He added: “George is ready to fight Washington’s reckless spending. Future generations need leaders like George Allen stepping up today, so they won’t be forced to shoulder the burdens of Washington’s continued failures tomorrow.”
Allen responded: “Like Tom, I believe the American Dream is threatened by the reckless, over-spending and burdensome regulations coming from Washington.”
Allen faces three challengers for the GOP nomination to be decided in a June 12 primary: state Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, Chesterfield County tea party activist Jamie Radtke and Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson.
The winner will face former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine in the general election.
Kaine’s campaign responded to the endorsement Thursday with an open letter to Coburn, using his own recent comments critical of many Republicans in congress during President George W. Bush’s administration — like Allen.
The letter seized on Coburn’s remark that it was “a missed opportunity of tremendous proportions that the Republicans didn’t embrace what they said they believed in during those times” to cut spending and pay down the debt.