Washington (CNN) - Virginia's top Republican is backing former Sen. George Allen's bid to reclaim his old job in Congress.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Friday endorsed Allen's campaign for the Senate, saying in a web video and in an email release that "George Allen will need all of our help. He has my support and I'm hoping he can count on yours as well."
The popular governor's backing of one of his predecessors in Richmond comes as Allen competes against a multi-candidate Republican primary field that includes state tea party leader Jamie Radtke and businessman Tim Donner.
"George has always looked for innovative and bold solutions to help improve the lives of our fellow citizens. He did that as governor and as Senator. And we need George Allen's optimistic, results-oriented leadership working for us in Washington again," added McDonnell.
Allen was upset in his 2006 re-election bid by Democrat Jim Webb, who edged out the sitting senator by less that 10,000 votes. Webb's victory gave the Democrats control of the Senate.
McDonnell, the state's former attorney general, won a landslide election as governor in 2009. A source close to the campaign says Allen and McDonnell will appear together at events and fundraisers.
McDonnell's predecessor in Richmond, former governor and former Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine, is also running for the open Senate seat. While he's the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic Senate nomination, at least two other candidates are also running.
In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to win Virginia in a presidential election since 1964, capping a decade-long streak of statewide victories by his party in the commonwealth. But Republicans won back the governor's office in 2009, after eight years of Democratic control. The GOP captured three Democratic- held House seats in last year's midterm elections, and this week won back control of the state Senate and widened their lead in the state House.
Allen and Kaine are neck-and-neck in the most recent polls of Virginia voters on the likely 2012 Senate showdown. Kaine has the lead in the battle for campaign cash, with about $2.5 million in the bank as of October 1, with Allen holding around $1.8 million cash on hand.
Democrats currently have a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate. They are defending 23 seats (21 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party) next year, with the GOP defending 10 seats.
– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter:@PSteinhauserCNN