A story in last week's Virginia Weekly incorrectly identifed the area that Warren Stambaugh represents in the Virginia House of Delegates. Stambaugh, a Democrat, represents Arlington County.
Inger M. Tallis of Springfield walked away from last weekend's state Democratic convention here screaming, "I'm going to vote Republican in the fall."
Tallis, 23, wearing a button that identified her as one of the "loose cannons" of the National Organization of Women, came here to support the campaign of Ira Lechner, the liberal Arlington lawyer who unsuccessfully sought the party's nomination for lieutenant governor.
"I didn't expect Ira to win," said Tallis, after the end of her first political convention, "but I was hoping for more fairness."
Back at work Monday, as a consultant to the health care industry ("that' right, a beltway bandit," she laughed), Tallis had calmed down enough to change her mind about bolting to the Republicans, but she still wasn't happy with convention politics.
"The whole thing left a very bad aftertaste," she said. "Right now, I want nothing more to do with politics."
Tallis was prepared to accept Charles S. Robb as the Democrats' candidate for governor, even though she doesn't agree with him on some issues, because she has "the sense that this may be the last chance" for Virginia Democrats. And Robb favorably "surprised" her when he cast the tie-breaking vote in the legislature last spring that permitted passage of an abortion bill.
But she "expected Ira's challenges to be heard" by the full convention.
Despite his loss to former Portsmouth mayor Richard J. Davis, Lechner's strong showing produced a peace offering -- the spot of vice chairman of the state party -- from Robb and other party leaders that could produce results for liberals four years from now. One of the responsibilities Lechner will seek as a vice chairman will be to revamp the delegate selection rules.
Paul Goldman, a liberal strategist whose shaggy appearance and penchant for munching health food invite underestimation of his understanding of the political process, believes Lechner has the opportunity to revise those selection rules so that delegate selection will be "less of an insider's game."
Although Goldman believes primaries are "more democratic" than state conventions, he acknowleges that in Virginia "liberals must accept the convention system, and learn to master the rules, or forever not be in the majority."
Mass meetings and conventions, the way party nominees are now chosen, offer certain advantages to liberal, Goldman said, because they include groups, such as labor, teachers and blacks, who already are well-organized.
"It's like that Rolling Stones' song," Goldman said, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you may get what you need." a
Changing the delegate selection rules has a special significance but Lechner who tried to short-circuit Davis' campaign by contesting nearly half the 2,074 votes that Davis received in his one-ballot victory over Lechner. But the issue was effectively decided several weeks ago when the vast majority of those challenges were rejected by a temporary credentials committee.
Even before Del. Warren G. Stambaugh of Fairfax presented Lechner's 11th-hour appeal before the parmanent credentials committee last Friday night, Lechner had accepted his fate and put out the word that his candidancy was dead.
Nevertheless, Stambaugh fought the good fight before a committee that was predisposed to uphold the decisions of the temporary committee. Stambaugh began his presentation by telling chairman Glenn Croshaw, "I'm glad you stopped this railroad train before it got to the last station."
For nearly three hours, Stambaugh appealed to the committee to reverse or weaken rulings that had seated Davis delegates selected at a number of mass meetings where Lechner and his supporters contended party rules had been ignord. But regardless of the merit of the challenge, Lechner forces were defeated.
After the hearing, Croshaw, who is a law partner of state Democratic chairman Owen Pickett, conceded that the decisions were based on political allegiances rather than merit, but he insisted that "the proceedings were fair, everyone got to be heard."
Stambaugh complained that errors ranged from "subversions" of party rules to out-and-out violations, but the testimony before the 30-member committee offered more evidence of the fragility of the process than of any grand scheme to deprive Lechner and his liberal supporters of their fair share of delegates.
For example, William C. Williams, party chairman for the City of Norfolk, acknowledged that delegates from one Norfolk precinct were appointed after it appeared that no one showed up for the mass meetings. Later, Williams said, it was discovered that one woman apparently did vote, for herself and two others, but wasn't certified because no one was there to pick up the ballot. But Williams even got a laugh from Stambaugh when he explained that the party had chartered a bus to round up prospective delegates, regardless of whom they supported, but the bus apparently ran ahead of schedule and "everyone missed the bus."
The one instance in which the violation was a flagrant that the committee voted to sustain Lechner's complaint occurred in Floyd County. where the official notice about filing for delegtes was printed in the weekly newspaper the day after the deadline. But the committee imposed no punishment, apparently because Stambaugh was unable to show that any Lechner delegates had been overlooked as a result.
While Tallis sent home disillusioned, Fairfax delegate James H. Boren came to the convention prepared to be let down. Boren, president of the spoofing International Association Bureaucrats, wore a "B.S. protector" cap throughout the convention.
Boren said he was especially pleased with the "dynamic inaction" that came when the delegates rejected a resolution that would have "saddled the candidates with positions and issues. That's creative nonresponsiveness at its best."