This afternoon, I was at the Russell County Medical Center in Lebanon. I was sitting in a small waiting room, watching televison, when an older man sat down about four seats down.
This man was probably 75 years old, white headed, in dirty overalls and a baseball cap. He was chewing tobacco, and had a Bible laying in the seat next to him. We'll call him Clint, for that was his name.
We had both been sitting there a few minutes, when something on television made mention of the War in Iraq. All of a sudden, Clint said "What do you figure the real reason we're in there is?" I was initially surprised he made a comment, since he didn't look much like the talking type. I said, "Personally, I don't think we should have even been there to begin with." He heartily agreed, and then we got to talking politics.
It turns out he was a lifelong Democrat "since Mr. Adlai Stevenson in 1952," and was disgusted with the current state of affairs in America today. He has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee as far back as he could remember (except 1984, when he voted for Ronald Reagan), and for Rick Boucher every time he has been on the ballot. I asked him about the 2006 Senate race.
"Well, I'll reckon I'll be voting for Mr. Allen. He's a good ole' boy." I didn't hardly know what to think. I pointed out to Clint that George Allen was born in California. He didn't know that. I also said that Allen had been in Iowa often lately, and even said he wished he had been from Iowa. He didn't like that at all. "Well, is anybody gonna run against him?" I gladly informed him that James Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy for Ronald Reagan, a Marine veteran from Vietnam, with roots in Scott County, was one of the Democrats running against Allen.
I told Clint that Secretary Webb was against the Iraq War, is for a strong military, and is a progressive on the important issues. "Well, It sounds to me like I'm gonna vote for Mr. Webb in November," he announced. I told him to vote in the primary, too, as it was the first big step. About this time, his wife came out, and he proudly announced "Sally, this boy's convinced me that Ole' Allen don't deserve to be a Senator no more. We're gonna vote for James Webb."
After the short meeting I had with his wife (in which I was prodded by Clint to again point out what Webb stood for), they were on their way, and I flipped the channel to Comedy Central.
Folks like Clint (and, presumabley Sally) will put Jim Webb into the U.S. Senate. The people who aren't aware of a second choice. The people who think of Allen as one of them. The people who don't like the way we're going, and would like to change it.
This Senate race won't be won in Richmond and Fairfax. This race will be won in Lebanon and Christiansburg, in Coeburn and South Boston, in Norton and Glasgow, and a hundred other localities in between.
This race is about the people.