Virginia Democratic Party officials said 1,153 uncommitted delegates have been elected in the race for the party's nomination for state attorney general, not 600 as an article in yesterday's editions indicated.
Supporters of former Portsmouth Mayor Richard J. Davis yesterday predicted he will score a first-ballot victory in his race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Virginia -- a claim that was disputed by Davis' leading opponent.
Former Arlington legislator Ira M. Lechner, a liberal maverick by Virginia standards, has filed charges accusing Davis of winning more than three-fourths of his delegates to this month's party convention through fraudulent campaign practices and "Watergate-style dirty tricks."
The charges against Davis, a former Democratic state chairman and close political ally of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charles S. Robb of McLean, must be settled by a network of party committees before a candidate can be nominated in the hotly contested race.
Davis supporters yesterday labeled Lechner's challenges "frivolous" and said the allegations would make no difference in the balloting at the party's May 29 convention at Virginia Beach.
"It's clear at this point that [Lechner] could not win the nomination even if he had every uncommitted delegate," said Davis campaign manager Bobby Watson. "We have to start sometime thinking about beating the Republicans instead of beating each other."
According to figures compiled by the state party, Davis can claim 1,689 of the 1,804 convention delegates needed to win the nomination. Party officials say Lechner, a former Northern Virginia legislator, has 1,119 delegates, State Sen. Dudley J. (Buzz) Emick of Fincastle has 166, and 516 are uncommitted.
Party figures on the only other contested state race showed a much wider split between two major candidates for the party's nomination for attorney general. Richmond lawyer Gerald L. Baliles was listed at 1,349 delegates, and populist attorney Erwin S. (Shad) Solomon of Bath County at 989. Listed as uncommitted in that race are roughly 600 delegates, people generally believed to be Lechner supporters seeking levrage for their candidate.
Lechner charged yesterday that Davis' campaign workers had made threatening comments to prospective convention delegates, and had manipulated local mass meetings to favor their candidate. He said he had challenged 1,585 Davis delegates in 65 jurisdictions, more than enough to block Davis' candidacy.
"What disturbs me and disappoints me so is that I see so much breaking of the rules, so much fear and intimidation, that I wonder if the Democratic Party really wants to win in the fall," said Lechner, whose labor-oriented campaign has irritated many Democrats who are backing Davis. "They can't win by just appealing to the country-club set."
Lechner said he would carry his challenges to the convention floor if he does not receive a "fair and equitable" hearing from the party's committees, which are responsible for investigating his charges before the convention begins.
Some party leaders have accused Lechner of trying to take over the party by bringing in outsiders who have no commitment to reviving and maintaining the party, which has endured more than a decade of defeats to a better organized and financed state Republican party.
Separately, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Guy O. Farley of Warrenton claimed that delegate balloting in Norfolk and Virginia Beach this weekend had pushed him ahead of his two opponents, State Sens. Herbert Bateman of Newport News and Sen. Nathan Miller of Rockingham. Campaign aides to Miller and Bateman, however, said they believed their candidates to be leading in the race for GOP delegates to a convention in Virginia Beach June 5 and 6.
Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman and former Fairfax Del. Wyatt Durette are unopposed for the Republican nominations for governor and attorney general.