Erwin S. (Shad) Solomon was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for Virginai attorney general at a large gathering this week when a middle-aged, Colonial Heights woman told him, "I like your ads on television, especially the one that says I'm not just another pretty face?"
"It's true, isn't it?" asked Solomon laughingly as he poked his face closer to the woman so she could get a better look.
Solomon, a two-term member of the Virginia House of Delegates and a Hot Spring, Va., attorney, uses bizarre, sometimes obtrusive and sometimes unnerving tactics to gain attention in an attorney general's race that has been overshadowed by other statewide races. One time he stopped his car in the middle of traffic to hand his bronchure to state trooper directing traffic.
He is running against Dels. John L. Melnick of Arlington, and Edward E. Lane of Richmond and attorney John T. Shell of McLean in Tuesday's primary.
At a meeting in Fredericksburg, the short and stout Solomon criticized Melnick, who he said has been criss-crossing the state using a CB radio with the handle "General Jack" when everyone knows his (Solomon's) handle has always been "Hot Spring's Fat."
One of his radio spots has golfer Sam Snead, his Hot Springs neigbor and a supporter, calling Solomon "a tough old bird."
Campaigning in Emporia, he told potential supporters he favors eliminating the fuel adjustment charges on electric bills because he said the add on removes incentives for utilities to look for power prices. "If you guarantee payment of everything, you don't look for the best prices of coal. Its like if I gave my wife the right to buy any clothes she wanted, she's not going to look for the January sales or irregulars," he said.
Solomon appears to enjoy long campaign days. One recent day he was awake at 4:30 a.m. passing out literature to workers at a Norfolk plant, later shook hands at a Norfolk shopping center, then drove about 100 miles to Emporia where he passed out literature and campaigned at a pork festival, attended a cocktail party in Emporia, drove another 100 miles back to Richmond and before turning in at 12:30 a.m. the next morning decided to campaign at a Richmond restaurant, where he insisted upon going for a late night snack. "I do have an appetite," he said.
"I'm Shad Solomon, running for attorney general," he said as he handed brochures to a young couple sitting in a booth at the Richmond restaurant. Three minutes later, he returned to the couple and asked, "Now do you have any questions?" He immediately joined the couple - unvited - in their booth and began talking about the state juvenile justice system.
"I love talking to people," said Solomon, who often after introducing himself asks potential supporters who they are, where they live, and what they do. He tells them if he is elected attorney general he wants them to come to talk to him.
Solomon's record includes 12 years as the Bath County commonwealth's attorney, 10 years as a member of the State Crime Commission and 27 years as a practicing trial lawyer.
I like to think I have subtance," said Solomon, whose slogan "Not just Another Pretty Face" appears in his $78,000 worth of media advertising.
"There's this (political) adage - if you have a pretty face and give some inconsequentialline, you can win. I'm trying to change that."