Richard S. (Major) Reynolds III took his campaign for the democratic nomination for lieutenant governor to the streets here today handing out pocket-sized cards to potential voters in municipal offices, a shopping center and to workers leaving a large railroad yard.
Accompanied by his wife, Pam, and aide and his local . . chairman. Reynolds spent most of the day introducing himself to people and asking for their support.
Reynolds faces attorneys Charles S. (Chuck) Robb and Ira M. Lechner in the June 14 primary. Lechner was scheduled to spend the day on one of his now celebrated walks - this time through Danville - and Robb was scheduled to be in Richmond working on television commercials.
Although none of the three has emorged as a clear front-runner in the primary. Reynolds is considered a viable candidate. His name is known to many Virginians, partly because the family run Reynolds Metals Co. is one of the largest private employers in the state and partly because his younger brother, the late J. Sargeant Reynolds was a popular winner of the office Major Reynolds is now seeking Reynolds is prepared to spend substantial amounts of money on advertising, which in a state as large as Virginia is virtually essential.
These elements were well in evidence today. Reynolds billboards seemed to be everywhere (he said there actually were about ten around the area). His television commercials are already on the air. And ever so often a person he approached would mention the family connection.
"Are you related to Sarge?" asked twice as big as he was," and laughingly pat his paunch.
One woman was not quite so friendly. "Do you support collective bargaining for teacher?" she asked. After being told "No I don't," by Reynolds, she handed back the card and said "I'll remember that. I'm looking for a candidate who does."
She was unusual. Most people did not ask him questions, although a few said they didn't want their taxes to increase.
"I don't think people care about issues much," Reynolds said in response to a question, "They care about basic things, like getting a job, taxes, just day-to-day living."
Reynolds recently won the endorsement of two major black groups at a joint meeting, and said he considers getting the black vote in Virginia crucial to his success. Last week he traveled to several black caucus meetings in different congressional districts, met with black leaders, and plans to publicize other endorsements he gets.
One effort at influencing blacks, however, has created one of the few flaps of this campaign. The Reynolds campaign took a leaflet being distributed by Lechner, which featured that candidate and Martin Luther King Sr., and reprinted it with a telegram from King to a black leader named Curtis Harris. The telegram said that Kings had not endorsed any candidates, and the reprint claimed that Lechner "distorts the record."
As it turned out, King was angry that his telegram had been used in that fashion and has issued a "To Whom It May Concern" letter saying that the Reynolds leaflet was "exploitation" and was being used "in an unChristian manner."
"I certainly cannot give my endorsement to any group who would stop so low and use such a political scheme," King wrote, and reiterated his admiration of Lechner.
In speaking engagements, Reynolds stresses his career as a businessman and supporter of equal opportunity. Today he issued a press release saying his "top priority" is "winning new manufacturing jobs for Virginians."