Updated at 1 p.m. on January 24.
Virginia Republican George Allen announced today that he'll seek his old Senate seat next year, setting up a potential rematch with Democratic incumbent Jim Webb.
"It's time for an American comeback," Allen declared in a video posted on his website.
Webb defeated Allen by fewer than 10,000 votes in 2006, when Democrats captured control of the Senate. Webb has not yet said whether he'll seek reelection.
“He will address the 2012 election cycle in the first quarter of this year after careful consideration and discussion with his family,” Webb's spokesman, Will Jenkins, said in a statement released on Monday.
Even if Webb passes on the race, Allen won't have an easy road back to the Senate. Candidates are lining up to challenge the former governor in the Republican primary, and they are positioning themselves to Allen's right. Tea party activist Jamie Radtke is already in the race, and Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, is seriously considering running.
Allen's announcement was widely expected, as he has taken several steps in the past few months to shore up support in the Virginia GOP.
Allen's reelection bid--and career, at least temporarily--were derailed in 2006 when he was caught on a video derisively using the word "macaca," a term widely perceived as a racial slur, to a Democratic opposition researcher in the crowd. Up to that point, Allen (who vigorously denied using the term) was leading in the polls and expected to win reelection. He was also considered a potentially serious 2008 presidential contender.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has wasted no time reminding the public of the macaca incident and of Allen's ties to the Republican establishment.
Despite those vulnerabilities, Allen starts off the 2012 race in a formidable position. He retains strong goodwill with nearly all of the state's Republican Party establishment, and he has the capability of raising significant money for a statewide campaign.
Watch Allen's announcement here.