Gov. Mark R. Warner urged fellow Democrats at an Alexandria rally yesterday to "Turn Virginia blue!" on Tuesday as they prepared for a weekend of get-out-the-vote efforts in the Northern Virginia suburbs.
"Every vote is going to count," Warner told supporters and local politicians at the soggy rally in Market Square. "What we see here today all over Virginia is incredible enthusiasm, record voter registration. Now it's down to crunch time. We just need to make sure we get out the vote."
Republicans are planning their own rally in Northern Virginia today at 8:30 a.m. at an Interstate Van Lines parking lot in Springfield. U.S. Sen. John W. Warner, Reps. Frank R. Wolf and Thomas M. Davis III and Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore are scheduled to attend.
Volunteers for Lisa Marie Cheney, the Republican candidate trying to unseat Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D) in the 8th Congressional District, are expected to distribute 20,000 fliers today for her campaign.
Many of the Democrats who shivered underneath umbrellas in a drippy rain yesterday said they believe Virginia has a chance to go Democratic on Tuesday, despite polling that suggests otherwise.
"I'm predicting this: I think we could surprise a lot of people," Warner said.
Democrats said they were buoyed by the fact that the party's national committee decided to spend an additional $50,000 on radio ads in the waning days of the Virginia contest.
"They don't waste money," said Susan B. Kellom, the chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee. "To me, that's the most positive sign in the world."
Warner conceded that $50,000 was a "relatively small amount" compared with other states, but "people in Virginia have been working really hard, and there is great energy. I think they wanted to reinforce that."
Republicans noted that most statewide polls taken within the past month show President Bush with a lead of 3 to 6 percentage points over Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).
"At the end of the campaign, everyone thinks they have a chance," said James T. Parmelee, president of the Northern Virginia Republican Political Action Committee. "We're looking at the polls and we think we're in pretty good shape in Virginia. But everybody has to come out and vote. We can't get complacent."
Laura Bland, communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia, said more than 2,000 volunteers will be staffing phone banks, passing out literature and canvassing door-to-door throughout the region this weekend.
Volunteers for Moran and the Kerry-Edwards campaign will be hanging signs on doors reminding residents to vote at more than 260,000 homes in the 8th District. Volunteers will also participate in similar efforts in the 10th and 11th districts, Bland said.
Kerry J. Donley, the chairman of the state's Democratic Party, said volunteers are aiming to reach some of the area's thousands of newly registered voters.
"I think they're Kerry voters," Donley said. "They don't want to maintain the status quo."
At yesterday's rally, Jon Kallen, 31, an environmental consultant and Fredericksburg resident, took shelter from the rain under a tree and said he had come to show support for the Democratic effort, in part because he is a disillusioned voter who supported the president in 2000 but will vote for Kerry.
"Virginia is still in play," Kallen said. "We don't think of Virginia as being a battleground state, but we think it's going to be close. . . . If we get the turnout we need, we may be able to pull it off."
Polls will be open in Virginia from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.