Although their ideologies are very different, the strategy Howard Dean employed could be the strategy Mark Warner employs. Basically camp out in Iowa and New Hampshire and go door to door, church supper to church supper, to make himself a household name in those states.

Allen, although a favorite, may have a more serious challenger, in part because of the issues going on. The questions surrounding Iraq, the questions surrounding abortion, the hostility that many Democrats toward President Bush, could all generate high Democratic turnout.

In many ways, the Christian conservative element of the Republican Party is sufficiently large that they have an effective veto over the eventual nominee. They may not get their first choice, but candidates they're opposed to are not going to get through the system.

In many ways, this could be a replay of 1996 - a businessman with substantial party support going up against a popular incumbent, who does well enough in losing that he will be able to run for the Senate in 2008 or the governor's mansion in 2009.

I think Allen has to be at the top of everyone's expectations right now.

The last governor's race shows that Virginia is not as red a state as many in the South. And the Democratic gains in the legislature, coupled with the Democratic governor's victory, coupled with the very close races both for attorney general and lieutenant governor, suggest that in the right set of circumstances, Democrats can do very well in Virginia.

The Democratic Party has long thought that its success is dependent on some support in the South.

There is a significant interest in letting elected officials represent their constituents as they see fit. And so I don't think that any effort that would limit how many bills a lawmaker could introduce or that sort of thing would necessarily get very far.

The presidential-nomination system favors the unemployed or the underemployed over the fully employed.