After another week of Republican convention delegate elections in scattered areas in Virginia, vote counters agreed yesterday that U.S. Senate candidate Richard D. Obenshain continues to hold the lead for the party nomination but will fall well short of the majority needed for a first-ballot victory.
Bill Russo, campaign manager for former Navy Secretary John Warner, said that with 2,359 of 3,081 delegate votes accounted for, the Warner campaign count breaks down this way:
Obenshian, 856.48; Warner, 764.28; former Gov. Linwood Holton 439.22; state Sen. Nathan H. Miller, 68.49, and 230.53 votes uncommitted. The fractional totals result from the fact that city and county Republican units are allowed to choose up to five delegates to cast each convention vote.
Obenshain side Bill Hurd gave this count: Obenshain, 920; Holton, 470; Warner, 430; Miller, 50, and about 300 uncommitted.
The Holton campaign has declined to make specific delegate counts.
The gulf between the Obenshain and Warner delegate counts led Russo to charge yesterday that Obenshain is deliberately understating Warner's strength. "It has been obivious for some time that Dick considers John Warner to be his major opponent," Russo said, "and it is equally obvious that he is putting out a vote count that is far short of a our actual total."
Obenshain aides insist their count is accurate.
It will take a majority of 1,541 to nominate one of the four candidates at t he Republican convention in Richmond, June 2-3. With only about 700 delegate votes left to be decided in city and county "mass meetings," it appears certain that no candidate will lock up the nomination before the convention.
The city and county delegate elections began in mid-February and will end in mid-May. Exact counts are difficult to establish because in most instances chosen delegates are not bound by party rules to cast their ballots for any one candidate.
However, Obenshain has succeeded in getting five delegations to instruct their delegates to cast all votes for him. As of Monday night, he had 307 instructed delegate votes and was given a chance for about 30 more.
Both major parties are selecting nominees for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican William L. Scott.
Last Saturday, Democrats chose 2,680 delegates to their June 9-10 nominating convention in Williamburg. A majority of these are committed to vote for one of the eight cnadidates on the first ballot only. In addition to 578 uncommitted votes are authorized for 111 state legislators, four members of Congress and Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb.
With all but 10 delegates accounted for, the state Democratic party has reported this breakdown of committed delegates:
Former attorney genreal Andrew P. Miller, 999; state Sen. Clive L. DuVal II of Fairfax County, 422; Norfolk City County Council member G. Conoly Phillips, 330; Carrington Williams of Fairfax, 84; state Sen. Hunter B. Andrews of Hampton, 62; former Fairfax Supervisor Frederick Babson, 5, and Falls Church Feminist Flora Crater, 1.