Blogger Detained Briefly at Allen Rally
Saturday, November 4, 2006; 11:25 PM
WEYERS CAVE, Va. -- A liberal blogger who was manhandled by supporters of Sen. George Allen this week was handcuffed by authorities and escorted from another rally Saturday after an Allen backer claimed the man pushed him to the ground.
Mike Stark told The Associated Press that sheriff's deputies detained and released him. He was not charged.
"I'll own this town," Stark, a first-year University of Virginia law student, was overheard telling sheriff's deputies as he was led away from the rally at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.
Stark said that he was attending the event as a reporter for the Air America Radio network's "The Young Turks" show and that he wanted to ask Allen about his arrest record and why he didn't do more to stop his supporters from wrestling him to the ground at a campaign event on Tuesday.
On Saturday, Allen supporters formed a human wall to block Stark's access to the senator, who is in a tight election race with Democrat Jim Webb. As Stark tried to sidestep the wall, he brushed the side of a supporter, who fell. A deputy sheriff grabbed Stark, put his arm behind his back and led him away to the cheers of about 100 Allen supporters.
Stark said that he had little contact with the man and that he overheard him tell another supporter that he planned to "take a dive."
The supporter who fell refused to give his name or talk about the incident.
Senatorial aide Dan Allen said his boss was concerned by Stark's presence because his daughter, a student at nearby James Madison University, was at the event and "he wanted to make sure she was safe."
"He's hoping authorities can handle it, and he's not going to allow incidents like these to distract him from discussing the issues that matter most to him," the aide said.
Webb campaign spokeswoman Kristin Denny Todd said Saturday that Webb would have no comment.
"There's nothing for Jim to say _ this guy is not affiliated with our campaign," she said.
On Tuesday, Stark was put in a chokehold and slammed to the floor by three Allen supporters in Charlottesville in an incident captured on video. Witnesses said Stark approached Allen, loudly asking, "Why did you spit at your first wife, George?" in an attempt to ask Allen about his legal history.
Albemarle County records show Allen received two summonses in 1974, but supporting documents were destroyed long ago. Allen has said the offenses were for fishing without a license and unpaid parking tickets.
Allen's ex-wife, Anne Waddell, later issued a statement calling Stark's question "a baseless, cheap shot."
Allen and Webb were about even in a poll released Saturday night by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Webb had 46 percent, Allen 45 percent and 7 percent were undecided in the survey of 625 likely voters, conducted Wednesday through Friday for several Virginia newspapers. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Independent Gail Parker also is on the ballot.