- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Few Virginia voters turned out yesterday for the statewide Democratic primary — the partys first in 24 years — to select a running mate for gubernatorial candidate Mark R. Warner and a nominee for attorney general.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine won the nomination for lieutenant governor, beating two veteran legislators, Delegates Jerrauld C. Jones of Norfolk and Alan A. Diamonstein of Newport News. Delegate A. Donald McEachin, of Henrico County, won the nomination for attorney general.
According to unofficial reports, Mr. Kaine won 40 percent of the vote to Mr. Diamonsteins 31 percent and Mr. Jones 29 percent, with 2,263 of 2,265 precincts reporting.
Mr. McEachin won 33 percent of the vote, with 2,263 of 2,265 precincts reporting. His opponents — Delegate Whittington W. Clement, of Danville, state Sen. John S. Edwards, of Roanoke, and lawyer Sylvia L. Clute, of Richmond — were not far behind. Mr. Edwards won 30 percent, Mr. Clement took 27 percent and Mrs. Clute 10 percent.
Mr. Kaine will face Delegate Jay Katzen, of Fauquier County, who won the Republican nomination for the states No. 2 spot earlier this month. Mr. McEachin will square off against Republican nominee Jerry Kilgore, of Henrico County, who was the public safety secretary under former Gov. George F. Allen.
Mr. Warner, who is unopposed, will face Republican nominee and former Attorney General Mark L. Earley.
Election Day is Nov. 6.
Yesterdays primary was open to all of the states 4 million registered voters, because in Virginia, voters dont register by party.
For weeks, political observers had predicted a turnout of fewer than 170,000 voters, partly because Mr. Warner is unopposed and none of the candidates in the down-ticket races achieved statewide popularity.
With slightly more than 160,000 voters going to the polls, only about 4.1 percent of the states 4.06 million registered voters, the turnout was the lowest of any statewide primary.
In Fairfax County, only about 55 voters had gone to the polls by early afternoon. About 75 voters had turned out in Alexandria, county and city officials said. Arlington County saw about 55 voters at four precincts at one time, officials said.
Local officials said voters were less enthused with the primary races because none of the candidates were local and none had targeted the electorate in Northern Virginia.
"There was very little publicity on any of the candidates," said Carol Ann Coryell, secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board.
Prince William County Registrar Gary Wilson agreed. "The problem is all the candidates were from southeastern or southwestern Virginia, so that has a lot to do with things," he said.
Yesterdays primary was the first of its kind since 1977. Mr. Warner chose a primary instead of a nominating convention, believing it would generate more grass-roots interest in the party.
County party officials said yesterday they were satisfied with the low turnout.
"This is the highest turnout level in 20 years and also our lowest," said Gordon K. Meriwether, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. "Were just pleased with the fact that we even had a primary."
Susan Kellom, who heads the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said she believes the candidates werent able to reach Northern Virginia voters because they didnt know who to target.
Like the race for attorney general, the contest for lieutenant governor had no clear front-runner. All three candidates for the state No. 2 position cited education and fiscal responsibility as top priorities.
Mr. Diamonsteins strongest pitch was his 33 years of legislative experience and the cause he championed throughout those years — higher education. Mr. Diamonstein, 69, sought to stir Democratic fervor by sharply criticizing Gov. James S. Gilmore III for what he said was the Republican governors neglect of the states public colleges and universities.
Mr. Jones, 46, billed himself as the most electable because of his ties to blacks, labor unions and teachers. He vowed to 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. Kaine, 43, had never served in the General Assembly or run for office outside Richmond. Throughout his campaign, he claimed credit for cutting the citys crime rate.
The three lawmakers who sought the nomination for attorney general shared similar platforms, as well: fighting gun crimes, protecting the environment and decreasing the amount of out-of-state trash. Mrs. Clute, however, focused on a plan that would expand the use of drug courts that stress rehabilitation of nonviolent offenders.
In campaign appearances, Mr. McEachin, 39, cited gun control as his top priority.
Mr. Clement, 53, vowed to crack down on consumer fraud against the elderly by creating a task force that would focus on fraudulent businesses that prey on seniors.
A former U.S. attorney, Mr. Edwards, 57, vowed to increase the fees charged for out-of-state trash.

* This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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