He is a hit at Republican gatherings all around Virginia.
In Norfolk, the crowds cheered him lustily -- with standing ovations -- after he lashed out at black racism, welfare dependency, crime, government interference, the "bankruptcy" of the Democratic Party, moral decline and lawlessness.
In Virginia Beach, Maurice A. Dawkins sat in the front row with Wyatt B. Durrette, the Republican candidate for governor, and right next to Pat Robertson, the fundamentalist Christian broadcaster.
Dawkins' rhetoric is music to the deeply conservative Republican Party of Virginia. A black, 63-year-old Washington lobbyist from Northern Virginia, he has been dashing about Virginia as one of five candidates for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor -- a race that will be decided Saturday at the GOP convention in Norfolk.
When he announced his candidacy in August at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Dawkins, who is a minister, said he believed he was called by God to run. "Like Martin Luther King had to go to Selma, like Jesus had to go to Samaria, I know that I must go to Richmond," Dawkins wrote in an open letter to potential supporters.
Dawkins acknowledges that he does not plan to win the race. Nonetheless he is touted by party leaders as evidence that blacks are increasingly finding a home in the GOP, and convention organizers are clearing the schedule so he can be given a prominent time to speak as a candidate for the second highest position in state government.
A check of state election records this week showed, however, that Dawkins has overlooked a significant detail: He has not registered as a candidate or filed campaign finance disclosure forms. Under Virginia law, a person who raises or spends at least $500 as a candidate must file with the State Board of Elections.
In an interview Tuesday, Dawkins, who describes himself as a free-lance political consultant from Arlington, said he has spent $25,000 of his money on his campaign since last summer.
The Dawkins campaign situation stirred embarrassment this week at the state party headquarters, where officials said they had been unaware of Dawkins' standing with the state.
"How about that!" said Sandy Scholte, executive director of the state party. "I'm going to have to talk to Maurice. He probably didn't even know he had to file." Scholte said that "he'd better get it filed," but that she did not think the descrepancies would change the party's plans to allow Dawkins to give a convention speech.
Without his report of campaign officials or financial expenditure statements, state officials said, there is no way to tell how much money Dawkins has raised, spent or borrowed in his campaign.
Dawkins acknowledged that he has neither filed campaign finance reports nor listed his campaign organization with the state board. He said the failure to file the finance reports was an oversight but declined comment on why he had not filed a statement of his campaign organization.
The omission on finance reports is a misdeameanor under state law, but it is unlikely Dawkins would be fined if he complies with the law after being formally notified by the state.
Sue Fitz-Hugh, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said she would send a registered letter this week to Dawkins asking him to comply with the law.
Dawkins has been an unusual presence in state GOP, which makes antifederal government rhetoric a staple of its appeal.
A native of Chicago and former resident of New York and California, Dawkins is a former employe and lobbyist for several federal social programs, including the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and the Opportunities Industrial Council (OIC) job training programs.
Dawkins says he now runs a small Springfield consulting firm with his son. Dawkins' wife is an employe of the Department of Agriculture. Dawkins formerly worked for the Development Assistance Corp., a Northern Virginia-based consulting firm that aids small business and other groups in obtaining government and private financing.
Many of Dawkins' public statements are attacks on State Sen. L. Douglas Wilder of Richmond, the unopposed candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, who also is black.
"I hope it's not true. I would hope he would comply," Wilder said Tuesday in Blacksburg during a campaign swing with Gov. Charles S. Robb and other Democratic Party leaders.
Wilder largely has ignored Dawkins in public while deriding him in private. The senator said he was concerned that Dawkins' problems recalled stereotypes of blacks as "farcical" candidates. "I have purposely stayed away from Dawkins' campaign ," Wilder said. "My candidacy is serious for Virginia and the nomination."