For months, supporters of Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee J. Marshall Coleman have been making dire predictions that Texas money would be pumped into their opponent's campaign.
Sure enough, groups of wealthy Texans have scheduled fund-raisers next week at the Petroleum Clubs in Dallas and Houston, with the proceeds to go to their choice to occupy the Governor's Mansion in Richmond.
The guest of honor at the parties will be Republican Coleman -- not Democrat Charles S. Robb, son-in-law of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.
"I guess you see some irony in that," yesterday chuckled David Blee, Coleman's press secretary. "But some of Marshall's Texas friends offered to raise some money, and that was too good to pass up."
One of the Sept. 10 affairs is being put together by Texas Gov. William P. Clements Jr., and the other by Robert Mosbacher, the Houston financier who was national finance chairman of the Bush-for-President campaign. Three Dallas businessmen, Peter O'Donnell, who operates an investment company; Bob Dedman, a developer of country clubs, and banker Bob Stewart, are joining Clements in hosting the Dallas event.
Coleman and his wife, Niki, will attend both events. No specific amount of money is being sought, according to Anson Franklin, Coleman's campaign manager.
Writing on his official stationery, Clements described Coleman in an Aug. 18 letter as "an energetic, charming man who is a superb candidate." The Texas governor said, "It is vital to elect those who espouse the same principles as our president."
John Ford, Clements' press secretary, said 50 to 100 people have been invited to the Dallas reception. Clements' ancestors were from Staunton, which is Coleman's hometown, and "he has always been interested in Virginia politics. He also is a property owner in the state," Ford said.
Clements owns Wexford, the house built for former first Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the Virginia hunt country near Middleburg, where the Reagans stayed briefly after his nomination last year.
Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton raised the issue of Texas money in a July 24 fund-raising letter for Coleman, saying that "what money he (Robb) can't raise in Virginia, he can find from his Texas friends."
Henry Valentine II, cochairman of the Friends of Marshall Coleman Committee, wrote last spring in another letter that "with his Texas money connection, we can expect our opponent to spend more. It will take $2 million to offset the money pouring in from national Democrats in Washington and Texas."
Robb press secretary George Stoddart said Robb has no plans to hold a Texas fund-raiser. Campaign treasurer Al Smith said that of more than $1 million raised, for Robb, about $7,000 came from Texans.
Robb's mother-in-law, Lady Bird Johnson, will make her second appearance of the campaign on Sept. 16 at a $25 a person fund raiser in Arlington.