- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

Some Virginia anti-tax activists and others are so frustrated with Republican candidate Jerry W. Kilgore that they are vowing not to vote in the governor’s race.

These voters say Mr. Kilgore has alienated them and others in his conservative base because he is playing to centrist voters on taxes and social issues.

Out of party loyalty, the voters say, they will vote for Republican candidates in the lieutenant governor and attorney general’s races, but will not go as far as voting for Democrat Timothy M. Kaine for governor.

John Taylor, president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, agrees that Mr. Kilgore has not reached out to social or fiscal conservatives.

“I think a whole bunch of people will decide to go fishing on November 8,” said Mr. Taylor, who is upset that Mr. Kilgore has not re-signed the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

“The conservative grass roots is so disaffected by both the national party and the state party,” said Mr. Taylor, who is also displeased with Mr. Kilgore’s proposal to create regional transportation authorities that could hold local referendums on taxes.

Political observers say the promise not to vote could just be political rhetoric and bluster.

“The question always comes down to what is their alternative,” said Mark Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. “They are making a lot of noise, but when it comes right down to it, they will pull the lever for the Republican candidate. The same goes for activists on the left.”

However, the election might be decided by a few thousand votes, and losing that voting bloc could be substantial enough to hurt Mr. Kilgore, the former attorney general.

Mr. Kilgore and Mr. Kaine are dead even in polls asking voters for their choice to succeed Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat.

The most recent Rasmussen poll shows Mr. Kaine with a 2-point lead. Mr. Kilgore had held a comfortable lead in earlier Rasmussen polls.

Mr. Kilgore could also lose votes from the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which typically supports Republican candidates.

Members say they are dissatisfied with Mr. Kilgore, who has captured the coveted National Rifle Association (NRA) endorsement, because he has ignored their grass-roots group over the course of the campaign and has snubbed their president.

David B. Botkins, press secretary for Republican Mark L. Earley’s 2001 gubernatorial campaign, said most of these groups will come around for Mr. Kilgore.

“We heard some of that perceived grumbling in 2001, but at the end of the day, what’s the alternative?” he asked. “No vote can be taken for granted. Every vote counts, but it’s important for a campaign to not be knocked off its strategy and its master plan.”

Mr. Earley, who lost to Mr. Warner, faced a similar situation with similar groups in the final weeks of his campaign, including the NRA failing to endorse him.

Mr. Rozell, the public-policy professor, said some factions of the Republican Party are just “absolute purists,” who stay home on Election Day if their candidate doesn’t measure up.

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