Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton last night blamed President Carter for the Washington Area gasoline shortage earlier this summer and accused the state's Democratic Party chairman of opposing his efforts to help ease the problem for Northern Virginians.
"I got all the criticism for it," the Republican governor said, "but the real reason for the problems and the long gas lines in the Washington Metropolitan area was the allocations by the Carter administration . . . Their formula was detrimental to the large urban areas."
Dalton showed up for a radio talk show here last night all ready to defend his handling of the recent gasoline crisis. It is a subject that Virginia Democrats -- who claim the governor was slow to react -- have promised to raise again and again this fall in campaigns for seats in the General Assembly.
But the governor, who made no secret of his eagerness to discuss the subject, had to resort to raising the issue himself when callers to the hour-long "McCaffrey's Washington" (WMAL-AM) failed to mention it.
"I wanted a question on gasoline. I even told people to call me and ask it," Dalton jokingly confided during a commercial break.
After last night's program, Dalton delayed his return to Richmond long enough to level an attack at Carter and the State Democratic Party chairman, Portsmouth Mayor Richard L. Davis.
"I couldn't understand why everyone was blaming me," said Dalton, who added that he had sent Northern Virginia 32.6 percent of the State's set aside gas reserves in June and 40 percent in July to help alleviate the long lines at gasoline station pumps.
Quoting from a copy of a Norfolk newspaper article, Dalton said Davis and another Tidewater area official criticized him for letting gasoline lines determine where Virginia's fuel reserves were sent.
The article quoted Davis as saying Tidewater residents were making greater efforts than Northern Virginians to conserve gasoline and "not pulling into gas stations just to top off their tanks."
Davis could not be reached for comment, but State Senate Majority Leader Adelard L. Brault (D-Fairfax) challenged Dalton's remarks, saying, "the only area in the state that had a problem was Northern Virginia, so it shows the gas was not properly allocated by the state in the first place." He said Dalton made the additional gasoline allocation only after criticism from Northern Virginia legislators.
Brault said Davis' complaints about the special allocation were made as mayor of Portsmouth rather than as a Democrat, "and I disagreed with him 100 percent."
Dalton, noting his recent trips to Washington to participate in television and radio shows and his plans to visit Northern Virginia several times prior to the Nov. 6 election, remarked: "I feel like I'm living here."