July 12, 2011 - 2:45 pm

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Tea party Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Radtke is ready to debate political heavyweight George Allen. And she’s ready now. 

“There’s a reason he pretends like there’s no one else in the race. It’s because people are looking for an alternative,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday.  

“He’s not the nominee,” she added. “On a race that’s going to have a profound impact not only on Virginia, but on the whole entire country, it’s important to start having debates and informing people as soon as possible.”

Radtke, former chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, and other Republican candidates face an uphill battle against Allen leading up to next year’s Republican primary given the former governor’s name recognition and fundraising prowess.

But Radtke said debate would be the great equalizer.   

“When he has to be held accountable for his record in the senate, it will have a profound impact on the campaign,” Radtke said. “And I think that people will here that there are new ideas out there, and new solutions. That will be the game changer.”

Radtke said that her campaign had raised about $100,000 in the last quarter, nearly doubling her first quarter’s $55,000. Allen’s most recent fundraising figures are not yet available, but he brought in $1.5 million in the first quarter.

Democrat Timothy M. Kaine raised $2.25 million in the last quarter, his first since jumping into the race.