Andrew p. Miller, saying he was "running flat out" for the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nomination, today zigzagged across the conservative Southside part of the state, promising to curb welfare, fraud, oppose collective bargaining for public employees, and keep the state's government small.
In virtually all his campaign speeches, Miller appealed to disenchanted, former Democratic voters to return to the party and vote in the state's primary on Tuesday. Miller is opposed by former Lt. Gov. Henry E. Howell, who has long been an opponent of many of the conservative Democrats who today turned out to hear Miller at stops in the agricultural region.
Whether he was chewing barbequed pork in Emporia or Brunswick stew in Cumberland, Miller repeatedly sought to assure his audiences that he, too, is an advocate of limited state government.
"I'm not the type of candidate who goes out in a campaign and promises everything to everybody," he told a breadfast rally in Suffolk, and repeated to a noontime luncheon audience in Petersburg.
It was Miller's second day in a conservative area and brought increased signs that his candidacy may be bringing back into the Democratic Party many conservatives who deserted the party in the late 1960s.
In Suffolk, state Sen. J. Lewis Rawls Jr., who had to be pressed into service to scramble eggs for an overflow breakfast rally of 268 supporters, called the trunout unprecedented. "This is unquestionable the largest and most representative group I have seen at a Democratic party function here since things went all to pieces 10 or 12 years ago," he said.
Rawls, a conservative Democrat, was referring to the takeover of Virginia's state party apparatus by a group of liberal and moderate Democrats, an action that led many of the Suffolk area's Democratic leaders to follownative son Mills E. Godwin, the incumbent governor, into the Republican Party.
However, at both the Petersburg and Suffolk appearances today, state legislators who are attorney general, predicted that his candidacy will bring as many as 83 per cent of Godwin's 1973 supporters back into the Democratic Party primary. And, added state Del. Hardaway Marks of Hopewell, "they're gonna, stay" with Miller through the general election.
Miller could hardly contain his delight at the Suffolk breakfast, which drew what aides said was the largest crowd for any breakfast meeting in his campaign and occurred just miles from the Tidewater cities that form the base of suport for Howell.
It's a good sign . . . the support is growing day by day," Miller said in Suffolk. By the time he reached Petersburg shortly after noon, Miller had added to his standard speech a prediction that "we're going to win" next Tuesday.
Despite reports that Howell's campaign is crippled by a lack of funds, Miller today showed no signs of relaxing his pace before the primary. "If we run scared we're gonna have a big chance for scoring a big victory . . . and if we do that we're going to have the momentum going into the fall" general elections when the Democratci nominee faces Republic Lt. Gov. John N. Dalton, Miller said.
Still Miller acknowledged that the members of his staff have "donated" 5 per cent of their salaries to his campaign to help it meet its operating cost. "That's total dedication," Miller said.
Miller was clearly as confident as he ever has been during his campaign, and at one point spoke of a "concern I've had as go vernor."
In his Suffolk speech, Miller struck hard at welfare fraud, saying, "There is no reason to have inefficiency in the administration of the welfare system," and promised his administration would give a priority to studying the number of welfare cheaters on the rolls.
At his Petersburg luncheon, Miller again stressed his strong opposition to collective bargaining for public employees, saying that would lead "inevitably" to "confrontation and strikes."