- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2001

A new internal Republican campaign poll shows Mark L. Earley trailing Democrat Mark R. Warner by 6 percentage points, leaving Republicans upbeat and still believing they have a shot at the governorship in Tuesday's elections.
Christopher LaCivita, a senior adviser to the Earley campaign, said he wouldn't comment on internal campaign polls but other Republicans said the poll shows the Republican base is coming home. And with polls showing a fifth of Republicans still supporting Mr. Warner, Republicans think there's room to peel off more of his support.
The poll, which state Republican officials said sampled 800 likely voters, showed Mr. Warner leading Mr. Earley 47-41 similar to a Mason-Dixon poll released this week that showed Mr. Warner leading 48-42, but less than the 10-point margin a Washington Post poll showed last weekend.
Amanda Crumley, a spokeswoman for Mr. Warner, pointed to The Post poll and others, arguing that the numbers fluctuate, so Republicans shouldn't count their chickens before they hatch.
The difference between 10 points and 6 points is big. A 10-point Warner lead is probably insurmountable at this point, but a 6-point gap could be closed by a strong turnout operation, Republicans say.
Yesterday Mr. Earley was in Springfield along with his ticket mates and a host of Republican officeholders. He told 300 volunteers at a rally that Republicans are poised to match the New York Yankees' dramatic come-from-behind World Series victories.
"The people who care about lower taxes, the people who care about families, the people who care about experience are still in the ballpark, still playing and in the bottom of the ninth we're going to be victorious," Mr. Earley said.
He and the other Republicans touted their record over the past eight years and Mr. Earley's experience as the state's attorney general as the reason to continue Republican governorship.
Meanwhile, Mr. Warner was in southwest Virginia, telling voters he'll remember them if they send him to Richmond.
"Come Tuesday, southwest Virginia is no longer going to be forgotten by Richmond," he said on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse.
Republicans will almost always win conservative strongholds in the Shenandoah Valley, the Richmond metropolitan area and the state's southern region. The classic model for a Democrat who hopes to win a state election in Virginia is to win big in Northern Virginia and then win Hampton Roads and southwest Virginia.
Polls show Mr. Warner doing exceptionally well in Northern Virginia and comfortably leading in Hampton Roads, but have shown his lead dwindling in the southwest.
Mr. Warner canceled several Hampton Roads appearances this weekend in order to devote himself full-time to campaigning in southwest Virginia with Democrats Timothy M. Kaine, running for lieutenant governor, and A. Donald McEachin, running for attorney general.
That differs markedly from Mr. Earley, who continues to crisscross the state with ticket mates Jay K. Katzen, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Jerry W. Kilgore, the candidate for attorney general. Joining them are Gov. James S. Gilmore III and U.S. Sens. John W. Warner and George F. Allen.
But when it comes to ads, the campaigns' roles are reversed. Mark Warner is running six different television commercials, including two that are shown around the state and four that are targeted by region.
Mr. Earley, meanwhile, has dedicated his advertising time to one commercial the spot featuring New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani which Republicans hope can cut through the usual pre-election ad clutter and stir their voters to turn out.
Libertarian candidates William B. Redpath and Gary A. Reams are on the ballot for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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