Virginia's gubernatorial race features three experienced politicians seeking a promotion to the state's highest elected post.

The three -- Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore (R) and state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. (R-Winchester), who is running as an independent -- are the ultimate insiders. As a result, the campaign has largely been a battle about what each has done in the past and how that might offer a window into what he would do in the future.

Tuesday's winner will arrive in Richmond with more experience in state government than the current occupant had when he started. Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) had never held elected office and was considered a political neophyte despite having once served as the state Democratic Party chairman.

Kaine, Kilgore and Potts would also arrive at the Capitol with more baggage, all having staked out positions on issues that have angered one constituency or another.

Those positions have served as the fuel for a bitter, nasty 2005 campaign season. Early this year, the candidates and their advisers traded accusations. More recently, Kaine and Kilgore have begun running television ads criticizing each other's stands on taxes, the death penalty and school funding.

Potts, who has repeatedly called Kilgore a "coward" for refusing to debate him, has aired three television ads, all positive.

Here is a glimpse of the candidates and some of their positions.

A lawyer from Southwest Virginia, Kilgore served as attorney general from 2001 until he resigned in February to run for governor. Before that, he was secretary of public safety under Gov. George Allen (R).

Like most recent attorneys general in Virginia, Kilgore treated the office as a law-enforcement post. He focused on domestic violence, computer crimes and anti-gang enforcement. As public safety secretary, he helped Allen abolish parole and build prisons.

During the current campaign, his opponents have focused on his position during the 2004 legislative battle over taxes and spending. Kilgore opposed the compromise that ended a 115-day standoff in the General Assembly by raising some taxes and lowering others. Kilgore said it was unnecessary to raise taxes given the economy's strength.

Kaine and Potts have hammered Kilgore's position as fiscally irresponsible. They say Kilgore wants to turn the clock back to when Virginia's two-year budget was regularly out of whack.

Because Kaine has few official duties other than presiding over the state Senate, much of the campaign has been devoted to his record as mayor of Richmond during the 1990s.

Kaine claims credit as mayor for attracting business, building schools, reducing the crime rate and helping to heal some of the racial divisions that have plagued the majority-black city.

Kaine's service as mayor, and before that as a member of the City Council, provides fodder for Kilgore's attacks. Kilgore cites statistics that show Richmond's failings during Kaine's tenure and says voters deserve better.

Kaine's position on the 2004 budget deal is also a key issue this year. Kaine supported the compromise devised by Warner and moderate Republicans in the legislature. Kilgore characterizes that as support for massive tax increases; Kaine says it put Virginia finances on a more realistic footing and increased public support for education, health care and other services.

A veteran state senator, Potts was once strongly conservative but has become more moderate over the years. Recently, as chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, he has been a reliable vote for abortion rights.

Potts has so far failed to win over many voters, according to polls, which show him still in the low single digits. He was not included in the three major debates and is largely ignored by Kaine and Kilgore.

Because of renovations to the Capitol, Virginia's 70th governor will take the oath of office in January at the historic capitol in Williamsburg.

Republican state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. (Winchester), who is running for governor as an independent, addresses an audience at the Hilton McLean in Tysons Corner.