- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 5, 2005

MARION, Va. — Timothy M. Kaine and the other Democratic candidates for statewide office yesterday stumped for last-minute votes on a swing through the state’s “Fighting 9th” congressional district in Southwest Virginia.

Gov. Mark Warner told supporters in the rural region — a key to his win in 2001 — that voters must elect Mr. Kaine for governor, Leslie Byrne for lieutenant governor and Creigh Deeds for attorney general if they want to keep the state “moving forward.”

For the Democratic ticket, the message of the day was “momentum,” as Mr. Kaine was up over his Republican opponent Jerry W. Kilgore by a few points in several statewide polls taken last week. However, the lead was within the margin of error, so the race is still a statistical dead heat.

“If we want to carry this thing home … and capture this race, we’ve got to do an awful lot of work between now and Tuesday,” Mr. Kaine said.

The ticket campaigned yesterday in Christiansburg, Pulaski, Wytheville, Abingdon and Honaker — a region electric with college football fever as Blacksburg’s Virginia Tech Hokies, ranked No. 3 nationally, were poised to play the University of Miami Hurricanes last night. Many in attendance at the rallies were clad in Tech maroon.

The swing through Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher’s Southwest Virginia district is a tradition for state Democrats the last weekend of the campaign, something they’ve done for two decades.

“Like touching a rabbit’s foot,” said Mr. Kaine, the lieutenant governor, who was fighting a cold.

Mr. Kaine and other Democrats scolded Republicans for running attack ads in the final days of the campaign.

Mrs. Byrne, running for lieutenant governor, said Democrats are more cordial. “Our Republican friends love the politics of division,” she said to a crowd of nearly 200 gathered in Wytheville.

“It’s been an unrelenting, negative attack since the March date they kicked off,” Mr. Kaine told supporters at a Christiansburg rally. “Virginians deserve a positive person with a positive vision. We’ve got a lot to be positive about, and I will lead this state forward in a positive way.”

Mr. Deeds, a state senator from Bath County, said Democrats must ride their lead to victory. “Big Mo is on our side,” he said, referring to momentum.

Democrats held six rallies in the southwest part of the state yesterday. Also joining them were Mr. Kaine’s father and 15-year-old son, along with his father-in-law, former Gov. Linwood Holton, a Republican.

Mr. Kaine, who will attend four rallies tomorrow, predicted that a Monday night Kilgore rally in Richmond featuring President Bush would backfire.

“If Virginians compare on Monday the president standing up with Jerry and me standing up with Governor Warner … they are going to ask themselves which is the government that is moving in the right direction … the Virginia government or the national government,” he said. “I feel very, very good about the way Virginians will answer that question.”

Mr. Warner agreed: “I’ll take that comparison,” he said.

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