Barred by term limits from seeking re-election to a second term in 1997, he worked in the private sector until 2000 when he ran for the United States Senate, defeating two-term Democratic incumbent Chuck Robb. Allen ran for re-election in the 2006 election, but after a close and controversial race, he was defeated by Democratic former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb. When Webb had decided to retire, Allen ran for his old seat again in the 2012 election but was defeated again, this time by Democratic former Governor Tim Kaine. Allen now serves on the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors of Young America's Foundation, where he is a Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar.
Allen was born in Whittier, California. Allen's father, George Herbert Allen, was a legendary NFL coach who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. During the 2006 senatorial campaign, it was revealed that Allen's mother, Henrietta Lumbroso, was born to Sephardic Jewish parents in Tunisia. He has a younger sister, Jennifer, an author and correspondent for NFL Network, and two brothers, including Bruce Allen, the current general manager of the Washington Redskins and former general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He and his family lived there until 1957. They moved to the suburbs of Chicago after George Sr. got a job with the Chicago Bears. Then, the family moved back to Southern California (Palos Verdes) in 1966 after Allen's father was named head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
Allen graduated in 1970 from Palos Verdes High School, where he was a member of the falconry club and the car club. He was also quarterback of the varsity football team.
Allen attended the University of California, Los Angeles, for a year. His father had in the meantime taken over the head coaching duties with the Washington Redskins in 1970 and the younger Allen transferred to the University of Virginia, in 1971, where he received a B.A. degree with distinction in history in 1974. He was class president in his fourth year at UVA, and played on the UVA football and rugby teams.
After graduating, Allen completed a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1977. In 1976, he was the chairman of the "Young Virginians for Ronald Reagan". Out of law school, he served as a law clerk for Judge Glen Morgan Williams of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
Allen's first race for the Virginia House of Delegates was in 1979, two years after he graduated from law school. He ran in the 26th House District which was then composed of two seats. He placed third in a field of four candidates. Allen states that he lost because he wasn't himself and was listening to the advice of his campaign manager who suggested he wear wingtips instead of his usual cowboy boots.
He ran again in 1982 for the House in the 58th House District with the cowboy boots and won the election, defeating incumbent Democrat James B. Murray, whose previous 24th House District was eliminated after redistricting, by 25 votes out of nearly 14,000 cast. He faced Murray again in a 1983 rematch, defeating him 53%–47%. He ran unopposed in 1985, 1987, and 1989. The seat he held was the same one held by Thomas Jefferson.
He was a delegate from 1983 to 1991. He lived in Charlottesville and represented parts of Albemarle County and Nelson County.
Allen was a strong advocate for the death penalty, and actively supported expanding it in Virginia. For several years in a row, Allen introduced a bill that would add murder in commission of an attempted robbery to the list. Each year, the bill died in the House Courts of Justice Committee. Allen would continue to collect newspaper clippings for his file and followed every murder in the state.
Allen supported a statewide referendum on whether or not to create a state lottery system. In 1986, he proposed a referendum that would allow assets of illegal drug dealers to go to law enforcement.House Courts of Justice Committee
House General Laws Committee
House Health Welfare and Institutions Committee
House Militia and Police Committee
House Mining and Mineral Resources Committee
Regional Party Whip
House Legislative Caucus
1991 Incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman D. French Slaughter, Jr., of Virginia's 7th congressional district, decided to resign because of a series of strokes. Allen faced Slaughter's cousin, Kay Slaughter, who was also a Charlottesville city councilwoman. Allen defeated her 64%–36%.
1992/redistricting In the 1990s round of redistricting, Allen's district, which stretched from the fringes of the Washington suburbs to Charlottesville and included much of the Shenandoah Valley, was eliminated, even though Virginia gained a congressional seat as a result of the 1990 Census. The Justice Department had mandated Virginia create a new black-majority district in accordance with the Voting Rights Act, and the Democratic-controlled legislature decided to eliminate Allen's district (splitting it among seats based in Richmond, Northern Virginia and Southside Virginia) and create a new, more Democratic 11th District in Northern Virginia's Fairfax and Prince William counties.
While his home in Earlysville was placed in the 5th District, represented by Lewis F. Payne, Jr., most of his district was placed in the newly redrawn 10th district, represented by fellow Republican Frank Wolf. Allen moved to Mount Vernon and prepared to challenge Wolf in a primary. But state Republican leaders had let it be known that he could not expect any support for his planned run for governor in 1993 if he made such a challenge. Allen decided not to run in either district. After Democratic U.S. Rep. James Olin of the 6th district decided to retire, there was speculation Allen could run there. But he decided not to move his family and run in the 6th district either.U.S. House Committee on Small Business
U.S. House Committee on Science
U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary
In November 1993, Allen was elected the 67th Governor of Virginia, serving from 1994 to 1998. His opponent in the 1993 election, Attorney General Mary Sue Terry, had an early 29-point lead in public opinion polls and a million-dollar fundraising advantage; his other opponent was Independent Nancy B. Spannaus. However, Allen's campaign proposal to abolish parole may have resonated during a surge of crime in the state. More importantly, he was running during the 1994 Republican wave. Allen overcame the deficit and won with 58.3% of the vote, the largest margin (+17.4 points) since Albertis S. Harrison Jr. defeated H. Clyde Pearson with a margin of +27.7 points in 1961.
Allen could not run for re-election because Virginia's constitution does not allow a governor to succeed himself; Virginia is the only state that has such a provision.
During his 1993 campaign for governor, Allen vowed to reform Virginia's welfare system, stating that "Our obligation as a society is to provide a hand up to those in need, rather than a handout ... Welfare is not to be a permanent status for anyone in life." At the time welfare caseloads climbed 36 percent from 1988 while one out of twelve Virginians were receiving food stamps. In March 1995, after an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of support, Allen signed his welfare reform bill propelling Virginia ahead of the national welfare reform effort, Among the key provisions outlined in the bill, the Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW) limited Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits for welfare recipients to two years while recipients are required to work within ninety days of receiving benefits. Following VIEW's implementation, welfare caseloads decreased 33 percent, from 73,926 families in March 1995 to 49,609 families in July 1997. In areas where VIEW existed for twelve months, 74 percent were employed versus only 31 percent nationally,. According to the Virginia Department of Health and Human Resource's 1996 annual report, VIEW saved taxpayers 24 million dollar in its first year of existence; with an addition to federal welfare money, the savings total over the following two years comes to just over $70 million
The Allen Administration's welfare reform law also addressed concerns over single-parent recipients of welfare requiring mothers to name the child's father and provide three additional pieces of information to help locate the non-custodial parent or face loss of all TANF benefits. Since 1995, Virginia has achieved a 98.5 percent rate of paternity identification, the highest in the country (Citation Needed). By removing the incentive to break up families, the Allen welfare reform allowed two parent households the same time to receive benefits as single parents. Because this law reversed the incentive of being a single parent TANF cases represented by two parent households increased by over 180 percent.
In November 1993, Allen’s campaign promise to abolish parole for those convicted of a felony helped drive him to a landslide victory after trailing from a 33 percent point deficit in the polls to Democrat Mary Sue Terry,
Truth-in-sentencing (TIS) and abolition of parole were ultimately passed in a Special Session of the General Assembly with the House voting 89–7 and the Senate voting 34–4 in favor of the measure. On January 1, 1995, Allen’s central campaign promise became a reality when TIS and abolition of parole went into effect. According to the law, prison sentences increased for offenders without prior convictions for violent crimes by 125 percent, 300 percent for those with a prior felony conviction that originally had a maximum penalty of less than 40 years, and 500 percent for those with a felony conviction of a violent crime that originally had a minimum penalty of more than 40 years. Between 1994 and 1995, statistics show on average that first degree murders with violent records went from serving 15 years to 46 years.
In 1993, nearly half of all offenders released from prison were re-arrested for a new crime within 3 years. TIS ensured that inmates serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence. As a result of TIS, first degree murderers went from serving 29 percent of imposed sentence to 91 percent,. While parole was eliminated for those convicted of a felony after January 1, 1995, parole remained in effect for individuals incarcerated prior to TIS reform resulting in a rapid decline in the parole grant rate from 46 percent in 1991 to 5 percent in 1998.
In June 1995, the Virginia Board of Education adopted Governor Allen’s Commission on Champion Schools recommendation for statewide standardized tests for academic accountability. The Board of Education voted in favor of implementing the Standards of Learning (SOLs) which measures student achievements and ensures accountability for schools in the core subjects of English, mathematics, history, economics, and science. The commission also recommended the creation of an annual ‘report card’ to grade each public school's performance stating that: “If Virginia’s youngsters can’t make the grade, then neither should their schools” (2)(9). Experts suggested that in order to improve the quality of learning, a school should emphasize academic goals and effective leadership. By using measurement through tests, the state, teachers, and parents can monitor the effectiveness of schools teaching the basic fundamental subjects (1). Allen’s legislation used public data of SOLs test scores along with school attendance and drop-out rates to ensure that unsatisfactory schools are accountable by the threat of state takeover through court action.
Initially, Allen succeeded in keeping Virginia’s educational reform independent from federal funding by using a line-item veto in the state’s budget, a power granted to Virginia governors. Allen argued that federal funding would force the Commonwealth to adhere to federal regulation, therefore, restricting the freedom of Virginia to craft its own high academic standards education plan. Despite Allen’s efforts to keep Virginia independent from federal education funds, the Virginia Board of Education applied for federal funds through the program Goals 2000.
During Allen’s tenure as governor, the American Federation of Teachers rated the SOLs “exemplary” in the four core subjects.
In 1994, Allen's administration eliminated Virginia's water toxins monitoring program. The Virginia Toxics Database, which was maintained by the program and contained important baseline toxicity levels for Virginia waters, was locked away in a safe during Allen's term as governor. Scientists and government agencies were denied access to the data by Allen's Department of Environment Quality. Reporting by The Roanoke Times spurred Virginia legislators to call for an investigation by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. The 1999 investigation found that documents from the database were destroyed and that the concealed data included information on high levels of PCBs in Virginia waterways, including the Rappahannock River. A report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation found that the DEQ had withheld knowledge of high mercury concentrations in the Shenandoah River.
In February 1998, Allen became a Richmond-based partner at the law firm McGuire Woods Battle & Boothe (now McGuireWoods LLP), as head of its business expansion and relocation team. At the time, Allen said "I think it's healthy to get out of government. If you stay in too long, you lose track of reality and the real world." According to a disclosure form Allen filed on May 12, 2000, he was paid $450,000 by the firm between January 1999 and April 2000.
While out of office, Allen became a director at two Virginia high-tech companies and advised a third, all government contractors that he had assisted while governor.
In mid-1998, Allen joined the board of Xybernaut, a company selling mobile, flip-screen computers. The firm never made a profit – it posted 33 consecutive quarterly losses after it went public in 1996. In September 1999, Allen and the rest of the company's board dismissed the company's accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, which had issued a report with a "going concern" paragraph that questioned the company’s financial health.
Allen made almost no money from the stock, according to his communications director, John Reid. According to the Associated Press, Allen steered compensation from his board service, other than stock options, to his law firm. He was granted options worth $1.5 million at their peak. Allen listed them on his disclosure forms for 2002 and 2003, but never exercised them.
Allen joined Commonwealth's board of directors about two months after leaving the governor's office in January 1998. "I learned a lot on their board and enjoyed working with 'em, and they seem to be doing all right, I guess," Allen said in October 2006.
Commonwealth granted Allen options on 15,000 shares of company stock at $7.50 a share in May 1999. Allen steered other compensation from his board service to his law firm, McGuire Woods. As of late 2006, Allen had not cashed in any options; the stock as of that date was well under $5 per share, making the options valueless for the moment. Commonwealth reported its first full year of profitability in 2005.
Allen became a member of the advisory board of Com-Net Ericsson in February 2000. The advisory board's responsibility was to meet at least twice a year and provide advice and service. Allen terminated his service on the board before the end of 2000. He was paid approximately $300,000 for his services.
Allen ran for the U.S. Senate and defeated Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Chuck Robb 52%–48%. He was the only Republican to unseat a Democratic incumbent that year.
Allen's term in the Senate expired in January 2007. He sought re-election in 2006. Allen won the Republican nomination on August 11, 2006, and faced two opponents in the general election: the Democratic Party nominee, former Secretary of the Navy James H. Webb, and Gail Parker, a retired Air Force officer and retired civilian Pentagon budget analyst who ran on the Independent Green Party ballot line. Allen ran a campaign that appealed to cultural, hard right-wing conservatives. During the campaign the Marshall-Newman Amendment was also on the ballot.
The pivotal moment in the campaign, and the one that the vast majority of political observers attribute Allen's stunning upset loss to Webb, came on August 11, 2006, at a campaign stop in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, where Allen twice used the racist slur "macaca" (meaning 'monkey') to refer to the dark-complexioned S. R. Sidarth, who was filming the event as a "tracker" for the opposing Jim Webb campaign. In what was dubbed as his "Macaca moment”, Allen said:
"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent... Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
Sidarth, who is of Indian ancestry, was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia. Allen's "Macaca moment" quickly went viral and, virtually overnight, it became the hot topic on all of the network and cable television news shows.
Webb won by approximately a third of a percent – 8,805 votes – two days after the election on November 9, 2006, Allen held a press conference in Alexandria, Virginia, announcing that he had conceded the race to Webb and would not seek a recount.
The bills that Allen introduced or authored in the Senate include:Introduced Constitutional Amendment to balance the budget
Introduced Line Item Veto
Introduced Paycheck Penalty Legislation, which withholds salaries from Congress until a budget is passed by beginning of the fiscal year
Introduced National Innovation Act, to promote growth of American science and engineering by grants, scholarships and training
Introduced "Long-Term Care Act", which would allow people to use their 401(k) accounts to pay for long term care insurance
Introduced "Flexibility for Champion Schools Act", which would allow states with higher education standards to lower their standards to match federal standards
Co-authored the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, which extends the ban on various Internet taxes until 2007
21st century Nanotechnology Research & Development Act
In 2002, Allen co-sponsored, together with Senators Ron Wyden and Joe Lieberman, bipartisan legislation that promoted nanotechnology research and development in the United States. The 21st century Nanotechnology Research & Development Act was signed into law by President Bush on December 3, 2003.
The Act launched the National Nanotechnology Program, to establish goals, priorities, and metrics for evaluation of federal nanotechnology research and development, investment in federal nanotech research and development programs, and provide for interagency coordination of federal nanotechnology activities. The National Nanotechnology Program, the single largest federally funded, multi-agency scientific research initiative since the space program in the 1960s, got $3.63 billion of funding over the period of four years.
Allen was the founding Chair of the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus. In 2009, he joined the board of the company Nano Risk Assessment, Inc.
Allen was a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Allen was appointed in the last Congress to serve as the chairman of the High Tech Task Force. Allen was elected as a member of the Senate Republican leadership as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002, and oversaw a net gain of four seats for the Republicans in the 2004 Senate elections. His successor as NRSC chair was Senator Elizabeth Dole. Dole was chairman of the NRSC in 2006, when Allen was defeated for re-election by Jim Webb.
2008 presidential election Prior to his loss to Webb in the November 2006 senatorial election, Allen had traveled a number of times to Iowa (the first state with a presidential caucus) and New Hampshire (the first state with a presidential primary). He had been widely assumed to be preparing a run for president.
In a survey of 175 Washington insiders by National Journal, released in April 2005, Allen was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential election. In an insider survey by National Journal a year later, in May 2006, Allen had dropped to second place, and John McCain held a 3-to-1 lead over Allen.
After the November 2006 election, it was widely assumed that Allen was no longer a viable candidate for the Republican nomination, principally because of the damage caused by the incidents that caused his double-digit lead in the polls to turn to a narrow defeat that contributed to the Republicans' loss of control of the Senate.
On December 10, 2006, Allen gave an interview in which he stated that he would not seek the 2008 nomination.
In October 2007, the campaign of GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson announced that Allen was one of three national co-chairs for the 2008 presidential campaign. That month, Allen declined to speculate on his political future.
2009 gubernatorial election Commenting on the 2009 governor's race in Virginia, Allen not only said that he had made no decisions but that "Susan and I have listened to a lot of people encouraging us to do that." On January 8, 2008, Allen said that he would not run for governor in 2009, but later left open the possibility of challenging Democratic Senator Webb in 2012.
In March 2007, Allen became a Reagan Scholar with Young America's Foundation. He is also the President of George Allen Strategies, a lobbying and consulting firm based in Alexandria, Virginia, a position he had held since July 2007. Between January 2010 and August 2011, he was paid $347,000 by the firm.
In 2009, Allen started the American Energy Freedom Center, a non-profit conservative think tank that is a project of the Institute for Energy Research. He was paid $20,000 to be the center's chairman in 2010; he ceased his affiliation with the organization in December of that year.
In May 2010, Regnery Press published Allen's first book, What Washington Can Learn From the World of Sports, in which he drew parallels and contrasts between two of the nation’s favorite passions. Allen suggested that government needed to look no further than the football field, baseball diamond, or basketball court to solve today's pressing problems because, in sports, teamwork is essential, cheating is frowned upon, and the rules don’t change.
On January 24, 2011, Allen officially announced, through a video on his campaign website, that he was running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, to reclaim the seat held by Senator Jim Webb, who defeated Allen on November 2006. As of January 2011, the only other announced Republican candidate was Virginia Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke. In the June Republican primary, George Allen took the party's nod winning more than 65% of the vote, defeating Jamie Radtke (23%), Robert G. Marshall (7%) and E.W. Jackson (5%).
In February 2011, Webb announced he was not running for reelection. Allen faced former Virginia state governor Tim Kaine in the November 2012 general election for U.S. Senate, and was defeated by a 53–47 margin.
Allen married Anne Patrice Rubel in June 1979. They divorced in 1983. In 1986 Allen married Susan Brown. The couple has three children: Tyler, Forrest and Brooke. The Allens are residents of Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Allen is a member of the Presbyterian Church. He is fond of using football metaphors, a tendency that has been remarked upon by journalists and political commentators.