- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 28, 2001

Virginia Civil War heritage groups, citing Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark L. Earley's opposition to issues important to them and his membership in the NAACP, hope to play spoiler in November by siphoning votes away from him.
Three heritage supporters — far fewer than the dozens they'd hoped for — stood outside Mr. Earley's campaign satellite office in Springfield yesterday trying to draw attention to their cause, arguing that Mr. Earley is ignoring voters who used to be reliable Republican voters.
Tom Phillips, president of the Manassas chapter of the Heritage Preservation Association, said they have three problems with Mr. Earley: He's a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; as attorney general, he chose to fight a federal court decision that the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) could have their emblem, containing the Confederate battle flag, on state-issued license plates; and he supports the decision by current Gov. James S. Gilmore III, also a Republican, to scrap the state's Confederate History Month declaration this year.
"Governor Gilmore is bad, and he's hand-picked Mark Earley to be his successor. It looks like Mark Earley is going to continue his ways of kowtowing to the NAACP," Mr. Phillips said, criticizing the NAACP in particular for its attacks on Republicans and its comments on Civil War heritage groups.
But he said Mark R. Warner, Mr. Earley's Democratic opponent, isn't any better. So the group is pushing write-in candidate Jerry Baxley, a Richmond resident who is chairman of the Southern Party.
Mr. Baxley, who was one of the three men outside of Mr. Earley's office yesterday, said they hope to draw support from about 20,000 people in Virginia, a pool that includes Civil War re-enactors, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Heritage Preservation Alliance and the Southern Party.
Mr. Earley has made outreach to minorities a hallmark of his public career, and campaign spokesman David Botkins said that's going to continue.
"The issues that face Virginia are broader than a month on the calendar, membership in an organization, or a license plate on a car — it's about racial reconciliation, and fulfilling the promise of Virginia for all our citizens," Mr. Botkins said. "Reasonable people can disagree on different issues, but Mark Earley is a man of principal and has the courage of his convictions."
Heritage groups have never mobilized in Virginia elections the way they promise to this year, so it is difficult to say how many voters they can bring with them, but Mr. Baxley said they gathered more than 5,000 signatures on an aborted petition to get him on the ballot. The Southern Party stands for state sovereignty, smaller government and paying attention to heritage issues, he said.

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