CLEARWATER, Fla. -- There has been a lot of talk within the Virginia delegation about the Republican who isn't at this week's convention: George Allen.

The former U.S. senator opted to skip the Republican convention in favor of campaigning. On Tuesday, he was scheduled to meet with seniors in Loudoun County.

But that hasn't stopped Virginia Republicans in Tampa from discussing his hotly contested senate race against Democrat Tim Kaine. Many of the party officials speaking to the convention delegates have highlighted the importance of that contest.

"We have to remind people this is not just about George Allen and Tim Kaine, it's about [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and [Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell," former Northern Virginia Congressman Tom Davis told the delegation at breakfast Tuesday morning, noting that the outcome of the race could well swing the balance of power in the Senate.

Unlike Allen, Kaine will not only attend the Democratic convention in Charlotte, he has also been assigned a speaking role. Kaine was in Leesburg Monday touring small businesses.

The two former governors are in a dead heat to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and the outcome is closely tied to the presidential election.

"People are just voting for the color of the jersey now. These are national elections," Davis said of the Senate race. "As the president race goes, the senate race goes as well."