- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2001

RICHMOND Democrat Mark R. Warner received an eclectic mix of endorsements for his Virginia gubernatorial bid yesterday a maverick Republican state senator, a former Republican governor and a handful of environmental groups.
Meanwhile, his Republican opponent, Mark L. Earley, attended a fund-raiser for his campaign hosted by key members of the party's leadership in the state Senate, an event meant to show that the senators don't hold Mr. Earley responsible for this past year's budget impasse, in which they and the governor deadlocked on budget amendments.
Sens. Kenneth W. Stolle from Virginia Beach, John H. Chichester from Stafford, William C. Wampler Jr. from Bristol, Walter A. Stosch from Henrico and Thomas K. Norment Jr. from James City County all members of the Senate Finance Committee who clashed with the governor were hosts of the fund-raiser.
But even as they were trying to show unity, former Gov. A. Linwood Holton Jr. and state Sen. Warren E. Barry of Fairfax were breaking party ranks and arguing that Mr. Warner is better suited to see the state through the next four years.
For Mr. Holton, who was elected Virginia's first Republican governor in 1969, the issue is the state's revenue picture and the need to have a governor who would spend money on education and other state services.
Still, Mr. Holton's endorsement of the entire Democratic ticket in Richmond yesterday wasn't a surprise: His son-in-law is Tim Kaine, Mr. Warner's running mate for lieutenant governor. Mr. Holton also broke with Republicans last year by tacitly endorsing Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb in his unsuccessful re-election bid against George F. Allen.
Also not surprisingly, the state chapters of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and Clean Water Action all endorsed Mr. Warner.
For Mr. Barry, though, yesterday's endorsement of a Democrat was a first. He said it boiled down to Mr. Earley's refusal to allow Northern Virginians to raise the sales tax through a referendum in order to fund transportation projects. Mr. Warner supports letting the issue go to a vote.
"On Nov. 6, I will personally vote for Mark Warner, and I would encourage all people in Northern Virginia in their best interest to do the same," he said.
Mr. Barry has played kingmaker on the transportation issue before, particularly during the 1999 state legislative campaign.
Transportation needs had simmered for years, but that year Mr. Barry wrote an open letter to Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a fellow Republican, telling him Northern Virginia was facing a transportation crisis and demanding action from the governor.
The letter, coming in the middle of a political campaign, highlighted a rift in the GOP and garnered plenty of attention in the media. The issue has been at the fore of state politics since then.
Republicans dismiss Mr. Barry's endorsement as just the latest move of a lawmaker who has often been a vocal opponent of party leaders, including this summer, when he joined Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, Fairfax Democrat, in suing to stop the governor from advancing the car-tax phaseout.
"It's not surprising that the senator who filed a frivolous lawsuit against Governor Gilmore to stop the car-tax cut would endorse the candidate who will slam the brakes on the car-tax cut," said Ed Matricardi, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.

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