Former Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Elmo R. Zumwalt has endorsed Henry Howell for governor, praising Howell's "heart, mind and character" and criticizing Howell's opponent Andrew P. Miller for his lack of support of Zumwalt in last year's Senate race in Virginia.
Howell, Zumwalt said, was "the better Democrat in supporting the party's candidates over the years." Zumwalt said that Miller, on the other hand, who is Howell's opponent for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, "impeded all Democratic efforts throughout the state" in last year's election by beginning his campaign and fundraising efforts prematurely.
Zumwalt said that Miller had done "nothing on my behalf" during Zumwalt's campaign against Sen. Harry F. Byrd (I-Va.) last year.
Nevertheless, Zumwalt said, "I've been around long enough to detach myself from any personal concerns" in making his decision to endorse Howell. The decision to endorse, he said, has been "a synergistic process (between himself and Howell) and over a number of weeks."
"Bud Zumwalt obviously has the right to endorse anyone he wants to," Miller said in a statement released through one of his aides. "Many people who supported him will not only disagree with his choice, but also with his stated reasons."
Although Zumwalt said that he would support Miller if Miller won the nomination on June 14, he cited what he called Howell's "early support" for Jimmy Carter in his race for the presidency as another reason for his endorsement and said that Howell would have "superior access and influence at the White House" as governor.
Zumwalt said he had yet to do any campaigning or fundraising for Howell but said that he would be "happy to do anything Henry wants me to do."
Asked if he thought that Howell's campaign was hurt by the lack of money for television advertising as his own had been, Zumwalt said, "It does impede a race not to have a lot of money. But it's important for voters to take a look at the reason for the difference."
Howell, Zumwalt said, was opposed by "very powerful interest groups who are supporting" Miller. He did not identify the interest groups.
Zumwalt all said that he was giving "serious consideration" to making a second try for the Senate in 1978, but that he would not announce his decision until after the statewide races were over.
In fact, he said, he has been told that his endorsement of Howell could hurt his prospects whether or not Howell wins the nomination. "I've been advised," he said, "that the way for a politician to be successful is to keep it fuzzy."
During the press conference, Zumwalt received a call from Howell thanking him for his support. "I hope your vigor and your intellect will overcome the fact that you are being outspent," Zumwalt told the candidate."