Virginia Democratic state Sen. L. Douglas Wilder of Richmond pledged today to travel to every county and most of the cities in the state in his bid to become lieutenant governor.
Wilder, who faces Republican state Sen. John H. Chichester of Fredericksburg in the general election Nov. 5, said the tour will include about 300 jurisdictions.
Wilder said the tour, which he said at times may include automobiles, vans and even a pickup truck, will begin Aug. 1 in Cumberland Gap, one of the farthermost towns in Southwest Virginia, and last about 60 days.
"I will be traveling the extra mile for Virginia," Wilder said in a slogan he hopes to use on his trip.
Wilder, standing in the State Capitol beside a large, hand-lettered outline of Virginia with a squiggly red line scribbled from one end to the other, estimated the tour would be 3,000 miles, "longer than a family car trip across America."
Wilder, 53, said he would interrupt the trip for fund-raisers or scheduled joint appearances, but said he expected to keep to the schedule most of the time, returning to Richmond only on weekends "to take care of personal obligations, such as the care of my dogs and other things." Wilder has two dogs.
Wilder said the trip has been in planning stages for some time and denied it was in response to slower-than-expected fund raising. His campaign announced last week that Wilder is planning a campaign budget of $500,000, about half of what he said might be necessary when he announced his candidacy a year ago.
The two candidates for lieutenant governor in 1981 each spent about $400,000, according to state elections records.
In a campaign report due Tuesday, Wilder is expected to show contributions and donated services of about $200,000. Wilder, a Richmond lawyer, so far has not reported any loans to his campaign.
Chichester, a 47-year-old Fredericksburg insurance executive, has loaned his campaign $50,000 and has borrowed $25,000 from a Richmond investor. In a report filed last week, he reported raising about $238,000.
At a news conference today, Wilder said Chichester has not answered his call for a series of debates -- a proposal Wilder made before the Republican convention at the end of May. "I'm quite certain he's eager to debate me," Wilder joked.