RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — An exhausting Senate race that led the nation in spending by murky outside, independent groups and tested voters’ patience for a year is at an end.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. across Virginia in the race that could determine whether Democrats retain their narrow U.S. Senate majority. People in line at their polling places waiting to vote by 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast ballots.

The most recent polling shows Democrat Tim Kaine with a slight edge over Republican George Allen, but it’s one Republicans could offset with an organized and aggressive turnout effort.

The two former governors are vying Tuesday for the seat that retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb is vacating. Allen held the seat from 2001 to 2007, but lost it to Webb in an unfocused, gaffe-strewn re-election campaign.

As of Oct. 17, Allen had raised and spent about $12.5 million to Kaine’s $17.4 million. But outside spending totals nearly $53 million, with Allen benefiting from about 60 percent of it.

Kaine, Obama’s handpicked former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, claimed he’s better suited to work with Republicans in a gridlocked Congress than Allen, whom he depicted as a bare-knuckled partisan who once implored Republicans to knock Democrats’ “soft teeth down their whiny throats.”

Allen has attacked Kaine for supporting an 11th-hour compromise in August 2011 that prescribes $1.2 trillion in deep, across-the-board spending cuts, half of it to defense, without a deficit-reduction agreement that has so far eluded Congress. Allen ignores the fact that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Speaker John Boehner and even Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, were among many Republicans who supported it.

View the 2012 Voting Guide to find out where you should go to vote, polling hours and a look at the issues on the ballot.

All-News 99.1 WNEW will have comprehensive live coverage of the election results tonight on-air and online at

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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