Former governor Linwood Holton yesterday became the second candidate within a six hour period to lay claim to second place in the fourway Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination in Virigina.

But Holton went a step beyond his rivl, former Navy Secretary John Warner, by predicting a second or third-ballot victory at the GOP nominating convention on June 3.

Flanked by flags, a bar graph showing relative delegate strenghts and blue and white placards urging his own delegate total at 767, compared to 955 for Richard Obenshain, 588 for Warner and 82 for Nathan Miller. Holton said 321 votes are uncommitted.

TEarlier in the day Warner had also acknowledged former State GOP Cochairman Obenshain as the front-runner, but said he was just 25 vote behind, with Holton another 306 votes back.

At a breakfast meeting yesterday in Alxandria, Warner provided this count:

Obenshain 969; Warner 944; Holton 538; Miller 73; uncommitted 290.

Last Friday, Obenshain's headquarters supplied this breakdown:

Obenshain 1,144; Holton 547; Warner 522; Miller81; uncommitted 381.

Holton's press conference reversed a previous campaign policy against making public claims of delegate strength.

He predicted Obenshain will peak with the first convention ballot and then quickly fade. A majority of 1,541 is needed to win the nomination at the Richmond convention.

Holton predicted he will win the nomination on the second or third ballot and will compete with former Attorney General Andrew P. Miller for the seat being vacated by Viriginia's Republican U.S. Sen. William L. Scott.

"It seems very apparent to me that Andy Miller will be the Democratic nominee," he said.