George Allen brushed aside three conservative Republican rivals in the Virginia primary, setting up a fall battle to regain the seat he lost in 2006.
With about 15 percent of the vote counted Tuesday, Allen had nearly 65 percent. Bob Marshall, a state legislator and hero of religious conservatives, had 5 percent. Tea party leader Jamie Radtke had 25 percent of the vote, and Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson had 4 percent.
Allen's victory sets up a November clash with another former Virginia governor, Tim Kaine, in a campaign closely tied to the presidential race in a battleground state both parties consider vital for victory.
Six years ago, Allen had been heavily favored for re-election and a possible GOP presidential hopeful until his chaotic, gaffe-strewn campaign against Democrat Jim Webb self-destructed.