George Allen finally ends his months-long fan dance and will announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.  I wrote last week that this non-secret has already generated some sniping and more than its share of maneuvering. But the real fun is only getting started.

A couple of things to note…

It ought to be obvious to everyone now that the Virginia chapter of Americans for Prosperity has been Allen’s stalking horse. Nothing new about that, as other pols have done the same thing in the past with other groups.  But it doesn’t make it smell much better, either, particularly as the head of the local group is reportedly set to become an Allen advisor.

It should also be quite clear that Allen has the backing of Governor McDonnell. At a reception in the Governor’s mansion I attended in the fall, Allen was on parade at what a few dubbed his “coming out party.” Interestingly, Senate candidate Jamie Radtke was also invited to the shindig as she was then the head of the tea party umbrella group. She instead attended a different event that same night.  Oh, the lost possibilities…

Allen is the front runner — no question about that. But I’ve found in talking to folks who don’t live and breathe politics over the last few weeks that while they generally have warm feelings for Allen, those feelings all have roots in his time as governor, not his Senate tenure. When pressed, no one I’ve spoken to can name a single thing Allen did, tried to do or wanted to do as Senator. But they can all recall, even if only in vague terms, his days in capitol square.

Christina Nuckols touches on this in her weekend column:

The people absent from Wednesday’s town hall are the younger, radicalized conservatives more loyal to the tea party than the GOP. So far that faction has split its support among three other potential candidates who have declared Allen too moderate to lead the party in the 21st century.

Allen was startled to find himself pegged as a lukewarm conservative after building his career decrying the “grimy boot of excessive taxation, spending and regulation.”

Look for Radtke, Del. Bob Marshall, Corey Stewart and others to harp on this point: Allen, the Senator, was a part of the GOP apparatus voters began to reject in 2006…starting with Allen himself.

And if they are at all interested in buttressing their case, they can always turn to conservative heavyweight Erick Erickson, who writes at RedState that Allen has to explain is Senate record on ethanol subsidies, gun rights and more.

My personal favorite is an Allen remark made back during that 2006 campaign, when he proudly defended “every single earmark I’ve gotten,” including $300,000 for the ill-fated Richmond performing arts center.

The dewy-eyed Allenistas won’t care. They really should.