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US Senate race in Virginia shaping up as national battleground

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Just consider how much presidential attention Virginia has received at even this early hour. When Mr. Obama elected to formally inaugurate his general election campaign, his campaign wedded kickoff events in perpetual battleground Ohio to one in Richmond, Va., the city where Kaine was once mayor. After first lady Michelle Obama scheduled a commencement address at Virginia Tech, one of the state's largest universities, GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney quickly countered with a graduation speech of his own at nearby Liberty University, the institution founded by late religious right stalwart Jerry Falwell.

Next, nowhere outside of Massachusetts do a pair of Senate candidates have such sizable national profiles to compliment their deep in-state roots. Kaine is a former mayor of Richmond and state lieutenant governor, as well as former governor. He went on to chair the Democratic National Committee and was widely thought to have been on Obama's vice-presidential short list in 2008.

Allen is connected to a football dynasty with Virginia's beloved Washington Redskins: His father was a revered Redskins head coach, and his brother is the team's current general manager. He served for nine years in the Virginia House of Delegates, a term in the US House of Representatives, and a term in the US Senate. He was widely touted as a presidential candidate before coming up some 9,000 votes short in his Senate reelection race against heavy underdog Jim Webb (D) in 2006.

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