And now, ladies and gentlemen, the main event.
In a state that often treats the presidential elections as political preliminaries, the warmups are over and the real heavyweights of Virginia politics are entering the ring for the 1985 bout for governor.
And although the election is a year away, the next four months represent a crucial round for both Republican and Democratic candidates who have been sparring in the shadows of Tuesday's elections and now are free to come out swinging.
Both parties will nominate their candidates at conventions early next summer, but delegates to those events will be chosen at local mass meetings begining as early as March. Already, the five active candidates together have raised more than $1 million.
The lineup card:
On the Republican side, former Fairfax delegate and Richmond lawyer Wyatt B. Durrette is trying to shake off a 1-2-3 punch of bad news last week that some politicians suggested had shaken his presumed lead and revived old fears of his electability.
On Monday, a poll by the Richmond Times-Dispatch showed that of nearly 500 registered voters who identified with the Republican Party, only 11 percent named Durrette as their choice. That compared to 35 percent for former state attorney general J. Marshall Coleman of McLean. Coleman, the GOP's losing gubernatorial candidate in 1981, is positioning for another race for governor or maybe lieutenant governor.
On Tuesday, Durrette came out second to Coleman again, this time in fund raising.
Durrette reported raising $114,000 compared to Coleman's $125,000. Although the difference was small, Durrette has been campaigning for more than a year. He moved to Richmond after his losing bid for attorney general in 1981 to establish himself as a mainstream and Main Street Republican with access to the power and money in the capital. Coleman, a Washington attorney, raised his money over the last few months.
And then on Wednesday, the godfather of the GOP, former Gov. Mills B. Godwin, who has been supporting Durrette, delivered a third blow.
In the midst of a Petersburg speech in support of President Reagan, Godwin surprised the crowd by refering to the "befuddled" race for governor among Republicans. Godwin said he could support either former Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. of Winchester or businessman W. Roy Smith of Petersburg, both of whom were on the platform with him.
Godwin compounded the blow when he told reporters later that his support for Durrette has been based on "the candidates that were being discussed" at the time.
While Smith and Byrd, an aging namesake of a legendary Virginia political family, are not likely to become candidates, Godwin's remark was widely interpreted as meaning that the door is open for another candidate.
It could renew pressure on former governor John N. Dalton of Richmond, who earlier this year announced he would not run again although all other GOP candidates said it was his for the asking.
Dalton was succeeded in office by Democrat Charles S. Robb of McLean, who under Virginia law cannot succeed himself.
Dalton, who in 1977 was credited by Republicans for "saving the commonwealth" from liberal Democrat nominee Henry E. Howell of Norfolk, is being told he could "save the GOP" from possibly nominating Coleman, a brash moderate-conservative who is personally disliked by some party leaders but has shown strength among grassroots Republicans.
In addition to Durrette and Coleman, 8th District Rep. Stan Parris of Fairfax is poised to make a major run for governor.
Parris, an acknowledged master of fund raising and direct mail techniques, is expected to gear up quickly for the race. He will argue that he has a record of winning that neither Coleman nor Durrette can match and that he can cut into the Northern Virginia base that any Democrat must win in a state election.
In the Democratic corner, Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis of Portsmouth last week weighed in with a report he had raised a hefty $500,000 that demonstrated his clout as a leading contender. Davis has the early support of teachers and labor, but will be fighting to tone down a liberal (at least for Virginia) image that he acquired in his campaigns for lieutenant governor in 1981 and losing bid for the Senate in 1982.
At the same time, Attorney General Gerald L. Baliles of Richmond raised more than $300,000. Baliles, who has maintained his unassuming lawyer-like presence around the state during the past four years, is expected by his advisers to open up more as a candidate in the coming weeks.
Nearly every Democrat agrees that the Most Pluck award so far should go to Del. Richard M. Bagley of Hampton. Bagley raised $125,000 by the time he filed as a candidate last January. Because of the way he set up his campaign, he doesn't not file again until January.
Bagley, the little known, but influential chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, initially was lightly regarded and assumed to be really interested in becoming lieutenant governor. But he has consistently surprised political insiders with his ability to raise money and get around the state.
Wherever two or more are gathered, one of them is Bagley, joked one Democrat supporting Baliles.