While the Democratic candidates for state-wide office campaigned across Virginia en masse this weekend, Republican gubernatorial candidate John N. Dalton pursued the state's voters, stealing the lime-light and stinging his opponent Henry Howell whenever he could.

In Hampton, for instance, where the Democratic ticket of Howell, Charles S. Robb (for lieutenant governor), and Edward E. Lane (for attorney general), had come to receive the blessings of the assembly of black churches. Dalton showed up to pledge his support to blacks.

Howell and Dalton also crossed paths and engaged in sharp exchanges at traditional Labor day celebrations in Covington and Burena Vista.

Howell and Dalton also crossed paths and engaged in sharp exchanges at traditional Labor day celebrations in Covington and Burena Vista.

In Covington, Howell reacted to Dalton charges of undue labor influences over the Democrats by saying, "My Republican opponent is traveling around to poison the state against organized labor. I think Johnny Dalton has got a lot of nerve to come to a Labor Day meeting."

In Buena Vista, Howell charged Republicans with neglect of working people, but Dalton answered, "Virginia has an unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent while the national unemployment rate is above 7 per cent. The Republican government of the last eight years in Virginia must be doing something right for working people."

Dalton and his top aides are entering the pos-Labor Day phase of their Virginia gubernatorial campaign "frustrated" by publicity given attacks on Dalton's integrity by Howell, and are determined to turn those charges against him.

This state of mind appears likely to shape the Dalton campaign in the next few weeks. Believing that they already have demonstrated that a conflict-of-interest charge by Howell against Dalton is unsupportable, the Republicans are now campaigning on the themes that Howell's false charges, his shifts in policy, and his slogan slinging prove, in Dalton's recent words, that Howell "cannot be trusted to be governor."

The conflict-of-interest charge that has helped shape Dalton campaign intentions first came from Howell on Aug. 20 when he made a sweeping allegation at an AFL-CIO political convention in Roanoke that Dalton had promoted legislation as a member of the General Assembly to enrich himself personally.

Howell promised proof in four days, but left on a vacation after three days without offering any. His aides said they had none. This apparent failure to back up Howell's serious charge set off a round of adverse news stories and critical editorials around the state.

When Howell did return, he issued a statement calling Dalton "an honest man" but saying he has a poorly developed sense of conflict of interest. Specifically, he said, it was wrong of Dalton in 1972 to introduce a bill that allowed banks and other lenders to increase the service charge on certain small loans from $1 to $5. It was wrong, he hinted, because Dalton is a director of the First and Merchants National Bank in radford, and he and his family own about 4 per cent of the bank's stock.

Dalton countered that the bill applied only to state banks, not national banks such as First and Merchants, which he said already was charging more than $5 for a small loan service fee. Dalton said he and another Republican Assembly member introduced the bill in response to complaints from a small state bank that it was losing money on small loans.

State and federal bank regulators questioned about the issue have generally agreed that the Dalton bill which passed, could have been applied to national banks, but as a practical matter, in the context of dual regulation of state and national banks, was not. The law since has been replaced by one allowing lenders to charge a 2 per cent service charge on small loans.

It is hard to say who lost the most in the conflict-of-interest exchanges. Howell expressed bitterness in a recent interview over adverse media reaction to his charge, which he insisted was more substantial than Dalton allegations that Howell, a lawyer with union clients, promotes union pleasing legislation in exchange for campaign contributions.

On the Republican side, Dalton campaign manager William A. Royall was upset because the Howell initiative put Dalton on the defensive. "All of us have been frustrated by the kind of campaign Henry has run," Royall said in an interview. "We are not blaming the media, but our answers to his charges just didn't seem to catch up with the publicity the charge got."

Dalton has personally committed himself to turning this situation around. At a recent press conference called to answer Howell's conflict charge, he said, "I've never been involved in a campaign of this nature, but if he keeps trying to bring this kind of stuff up, we're going to tell the people what he is about."

The Dalton statement reflects a Republican determination to avoid what former attorney general Andrew P. Miller regards as a major mistake in his losing race against Howell for the Democratic nomination.

When Howell charged Miller with courting anti-Semitic support and alleged he was not competent to be governor, Miller did not respond in the stated belief that his record in public office demonstrated they were untrue.

After his loss in the June 14 primary, Miller said in an interview, "That was a mistake.Apperently many voters took these unanswered charges at face value."

Apart from an effort to make an issue of Howell himself, Royall has targeted an improvement in Dalton's name identification among voters, especially in Northern Virginia, as a major goal of the weeks immediately ahead.

This is Howell's third try for the governship in a colorful and controversial political caretr. In an effort to catch up in voter recognition, Dalton already has started his media campaign with spots on the Washington Redskin radio broadcasts of preseason games. These will continue into the regular season.

Royall said in an interview that he believes there exists a greater potential for attracting now undecided voters in Northern Virginia than in any other part of the state.

This analysis rests on the assumption that Howell will run up big margins in his Southeast Virginia base and that Dalton will do equally well in the conservative belt that runs from the Southern Pledmont through the Richmond suburbs in Central Virginia and into the Shenandoah Valley. Recent Democratic Party strength in Southwest Virginia, set against the fact that Dalton lives in that mountain region, makes it appear that neither side can count on big margins there.

This leaves Northern Virginia as a potential swing region. Royall said Dalton will campaign frequently in the Washington suburbs and will spend a lot of time talking about issues peculiar to Northern Virginia.

The Republican Lt. Gov. candidate is State Sen. A. Joe Canada, of Virginia Beach, and the Republican nominee for attorney general is state Sen. J. Marshall Coleman of Stauton.

Coleman started his fall campaign with a two-day visit to five cities last week as well as a stop in Arlington. There he said he plans to release a statement of his personal financial worth this week, something his running mate, Dalton, has refused to do on principle.

Coleman's campaign is developing as a feistier battle than is customary in Virginia politicis. His attacks on his opponent, Ed Lane, are shaping what have because two central issues in the attorney general's race - the concept of the job's responsbilities and Lane's record on racial issues during his 24 years as a member of the House of Delegates.

Coleman has distributed literature prepared by his staff that lists in detail "39 bills over a 17-year period which Ed Lane sponsored or voted on in a way I believe most blacks would recognize as being detrimental to their long quest for equal rights and equal opportunity." He also reprinted a letter in which a Lane supporter assures a potential supporter that "Ed would not be an activist type of attorney general such as we have had in the last few years."

Lane has said that Coleman's approach is a surprise. We may have to rethink our approach."

Coleman said he plans to spend at least one day a week in Northern Virginia, which he also views as a key area, partly because it is not a source of natural strength for Lane.

"Northern Virginia is up for grabs," Coleman said.

Coleman and Canada each hopes to raise about $300,000. Both will receive one 18th of contributions Dalton receives that are not earmarked by donors for the gubernatorial campaign. This has amounted to $20,000 each so far. Dalton has a fundraising goal of about $1.3 million.

Canada said at the beginning of the Labor Day weekend that he and his wife will intensify the personal campaigning style they have maintained throughout the summer. They have scheduled a 10-day camper tour to visit each of the state's congressional districts.

Canada has a folksy campagin style that sometimes includes arm wrestling with patrons in truck stops and is in sharp contrast with the formal demeanor of his Democratic opponent, Fairfax County lawyer Chuck Robb.

The Republican continues to attack our-of-state contributions to Robb, especially those from political associates of his late father-in-law, former President Johnson.

Canada also stresses his six years in the Virginia Senate as preparation to preside over that body as lieutenant governor and to succeed the governor should he die in office.

Robb has never held elective office. CAPTION: Picture 1, JOHN N. DALTON . . . frustrated by attacks on integrity; Picture 2, HENRY HOWELL . . . "could use $800,000"