Wilder, Coleman Push Supporters to Get Out Voters With PM-ELN--Election Rdp, Bjt
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Turnout was heavy today as L. Douglas Wilder’s bid to become the nation’s first elected black governor went to the voters after a race in which abortion and negative campaigning emerged as major issues.
″We’re on roller skates,″ said Alice Lynch, registrar in Richmond, describing the activity in her office. ″I think it’s going to be a record in Richmond anyway.″
Wilder, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, and J. Marshall Coleman, the Republican candidate, flew across the state Monday to warn supporters against complacency and too much reliance on polls showing Wilder ahead.
″We’re absolutely on the eve of a great victory,″ Coleman told about two dozen volunteers at Richmond’s airport.
Wilder, pointing to an overcast and drizzling sky at a state Capitol rally in the afternoon for about 100 supporters, said everything was sunny. ″It’s only in perception,″ he said.
The weather was cloudy this morning.
Campaign workers on both sides staffed telephone banks Monday to call potential supporters and urge them to vote.
Coleman, a former attorney general, spent the day with Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., and was met in Richmond by the Republican candidate for attorney general, Joseph B. Benedetti. The GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, Edwina P. ″Eddy″ Dalton, was campaigning separately.
Wilder and his running mates, Donald S. Beyer Jr. for lieutenant governor and Mary Sue Terry seeking re-election as attorney general, stayed together and were joined by Gov. Gerald L. Baliles and former Gov. Charles S. Robb, now a U.S. senator.
While race was the question that focused attention on Virginia early in the campaign, Wilder upset many expectations when he made his support for abortion rights a central theme of his campaign.
Wilder’s stand caught Coleman, an opponent of abortions, by surprise. As the campaign progressed Coleman conceded he was being hurt by the abortion issue.
The campaign has gotten acrimonious at times.
The GOP candidate has aired a commercial portraying his Democratic opponent as insensitive to rape victims, and Wilder has inveighed against Coleman for invoking the name of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in a televised debate because he said Coleman urged a veto of a state holiday honoring King.
In Roanoke on Monday, Wilder said he felt ″exceedingly good″ about the chances for a Democratic sweep of the state’s top three offices.
But he also played down a Richmond Times-Dispatch poll on Sunday showing him 9 points ahead of Coleman - 45 percent to 36 percent - with 19 percent undecided.
Coleman said he has the most effective grass-roots organization in state history and that his workers were out to ″energize the precinct organization.″
″Our tracking shows the undecideds are breaking our way,″ Coleman said. ″All we have to do is get the vote out.″