- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2001

Virginia Democrats will head to the polls tomorrow in their first statewide primary in 24 years to select a running mate for gubernatorial candidate Mark R. Warner and a nominee for attorney general.
Three lawyers — Delegates Jerrauld Jones of Norfolk and Alan Diamonstein of Newport News, and Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine — are seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.
Three lawmakers and one lawyer are vying for the partys nomination for attorney general: state Sen. John S. Edwards of Roanoke; Delegates Whittington W. Clement of Danville and A. Donald McEachin of Henrico County; and lawyer Sylvia L. Clute of Richmond.
Mr. Warner, 46, is unopposed for the governors slot.
The primary is open to all Virginia voters, who do not identify a party affiliation when they register to vote.
Like the race for attorney general, the contest for lieutenant governor has no clear front-runner. All three candidates for the states No. 2 position vow to improve the quality of education and promote fiscal responsibility.
The candidates said they opposed Gov. James S. Gilmore IIIs efforts to keep a 70 percent cut in the car tax this year, even though Mr. Diamonstein and Mr. Jones voted for the House budget that included the 70 percent cut. The candidates also said they support a moratorium on the death penalty while a state-sponsored study of capital punishment is conducted, and support some form of handgun controls.
Mr. Warner has not endorsed anyone and said he would be comfortable with any of the three as a running mate, said Warner spokeswoman Amanda Crumlee.
The key distinction among the candidates is that Mr. Kaine, 43, has never served in the General Assembly or run for office outside Richmond. Mr. Kaine said he believes he is better qualified for the job than Mr. Diamonstein and Mr. Jones. He noted that both served in this session of the General Assembly, which failed to pass a state budget.
"It was an example of how not to do business. We need to have someone who can get the job done," said Mr. Kaine, who also wants to cut property taxes for low-income senior citizens.
Mr. Diamonstein, a delegate since 1968, said he would work to make education more affordable for all and provide infrastructure for cities. "We need to make sure we equalize education so children dont suffer because of what part of the state they live," he said.
Mr. Diamonstein, 69, said he would work to restore truth in the budgeting process. He said the legislature has gone off course from "common-sense" fiscal policies. "It has something to do with borrowing from the next fiscal year to cover promises from the last fiscal year," he said. "Or expecting local government to pick up the check for public services while they struggle with a 19th-century revenue system."
Mr. Jones, 46, said he would fight for higher teacher salaries, fairer distribution of school funds and an affordable college education. A delegate since 1988, he is chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus and has led efforts to reform workers compensation and juvenile justice.
Mr. Jones said the most important factor in the campaign is electability. He said he is the strongest candidate among core Democrats, including blacks, labor unions and teachers, and that will improve voter turnout in November.
"We all have good ideas. We all are good Democrats," Mr. Jones said. "Mr. Warner is going to get the best support team he can get and the running mate who brings the most to the political table."
The winner of the lieutenant governor primary will face Delegate Jay Katzen of Fauquier County, who won the Republican nomination on June 2.
The three lawmakers seeking the nomination for attorney general share similar platforms: fighting gun crimes, protecting the environment and decreasing the amount of out-of-state trash coming to Virginia.
The fourth candidate, Mrs. Clute, 58, is focusing on a plan to expand the use of drug courts that stress rehabilitation over punishment of nonviolent offenders. Under the program, offenders who plead guilty are to be supervised for 12 to 18 months, instead of going to jail.
If elected, Mrs. Clute said, she would sponsor a study on the Dillon Rule, the state law that requires the General Assembly to approve most changes in local government sought by localities.
Mr. McEachin, 39, said he has no interest in taking guns away from law-abiding residents. But the delegate said he supports a complete ban on guns on school grounds, increased penalties for suppliers of guns to minors, and maintaining the ban on concealed weapons in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.
Mr. McEachin, a delegate since 1996, supports accelerating the closing of leaky landfills and continuing efforts to clean the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. He would be the first black to serve as attorney general, if elected.
A delegate since 1988, Mr. Clement, 53, said he wants to crack down on consumer fraud against the elderly by creating a task force that would focus on fraudulent businesses that prey on seniors. He also wants to fight for laws that would prevent nursing homes from hiring anyone convicted of a felony.
Mr. Clement has pledged that his office would keep a sharp eye on the states electricity deregulation to ensure that consumers, especially seniors and rural customers, are protected.
A former U.S. Attorney, Mr. Edwards, 57, is the only candidate for attorney general to have served in the armed forces, having been a Judge Advocate General officer in the Marine Corps in the early 1970s. He also is the only candidate with local government experience: He was a Roanoke City Council member in the early 1990s. He has been a state senator since 1996.
Mr. Edwards wants to increase the fees charged for out-of-state trash. He also wants to create mental health courts, a notion similar to the drug courts, and to end racial profiling by expanding training for officers throughout the state.
Tomorrows winner in the attorney general race will face Republican nominee Jerry Kilgore of Henrico County, who was the public safety secretary under Gov. George F. Allen.
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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