- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

RICHMOND — Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield County, says opinions in the black community here about Sen. George Allen are varied.

Mr. Glenn said Mr. Allen, a Republican seeking re-election on Nov. 7, has taken strides to atone for mistakes and to refine his “good old boy” image, despite what his political opponents are saying.

“The imitation cowboy-boot-wearing, Confederate-flag-waving” image does not match the real Mr. Allen, Mr. Glenn said.

However, Raymond H. Boone, publisher of the progressive Richmond Free Press newspaper, said Mr. Allen, 54, is indeed a good old boy and that his polished image is designed to attract black votes and prepare for a presidential run in 2008.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus has endorsed Mr. Allen’s challenger, James H. Webb Jr., a Democrat.

Caucus members cited Mr. Allen’s stance on the war in Iraq and his support of President Bush.

Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat and the only black U.S. senator, also endorsed Mr. Webb last week.

The endorsements are expected to help Mr. Webb, 50, win votes from blacks.

Mr. Webb struggled to connect with black voters in the Democratic primary because of his stance on affirmative action. Mr. Webb has said he thinks affirmative-action programs should be only for blacks, as originally intended, or opened to poor whites as well.

The endorsements for Mr. Webb add to difficulties for Mr. Allen, who during one campaign stop used the racially insensitive word “macaca” to describe a Webb staffer of Indian descent. He also has been accused of making racially insensitive remarks when in college.

Blacks make up 20 percent of the electorate and Mr. Allen’s problems likely will cost him many of those votes, but Mr. Glenn thinks the senator will learn and grow from the experience.

“If the people of Virginia return him to the Senate, I believe that he will be a different George Allen than has been perceived by some,” he said. “You cannot go through what he has gone through of late and remain unchanged.”

Mr. Boone disagrees.

“You cannot find any politician since ‘massive resistance’ that is more insensitive to racial justice than George Allen, and that is not hyperbole,” he said.

Mr. Boone and other critics note that Mr. Allen once had a noose in his law office, voted in the state legislature against Martin Luther King Jr. Day and made Confederate History Month proclamations as governor.

Mr. Glenn and other supporters point out that Mr. Allen nominated a black judge for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, went to Farmville to learn about the community’s racial healing and said recently that the Confederate flag can be perceived as racially insensitive.

Delegates A. Donald McEachin and Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III are Democrats who represent overlapping districts in Richmond but take different views on Mr. Allen.

“In my district, I think George Allen is pretty far down on the totem poll,” said Mr. McEachin, who supports Mr. Webb.

Mr. Lambert endorsed Mr. Allen after he vowed to fight for $450 million for historically black colleges and universities, but has been criticized for the decision.

“I think he has made some really bad mistakes, but I do feel as though he is trying to correct them,” he said.

Said Mr. Boone: “It’s really going to be a test for Virginia, whether George Allen represents the sentiment of the state. George Allen was playing toward the old Virginia. There is a much different kind of electorate now, or different kind of mind-set. The Old South mind-set to a large degree has been diminished.”

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