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> McEachin pulls out of primary
> Lambert has no opposition for state Senate
> BY TYLER WHITLEY
> TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER May 03, 2003
> Former Del. A. Donald McEachin, of Henrico County, withdrew yesterday
> from a state Senate primary race in which his campaign never seemed to
> catch fire.
> McEachin said he had gotten the pro-mayor-at-large answer he wanted
> from Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III, D-Richmond.
> Lambert, who has represented the 9th senatorial district in the
> Virginia Senate since 1986, now has no opposition in the June 10
> Democratic primary, nor in the Nov. 4 general election.
> The Lambert-McEachin primary was to have been the only significant
> contest in the Richmond area this year. There are no other primary
> challenges in the area. In addition, the House of Delegates and Senate
> districts have been drawn so carefully to benefit incumbents that few
> of the incumbents are being challenged.
> On Wednesday, McEachin released a letter to Lambert in which he
> promised to withdraw from the race if Lambert pledged to support a
> mayor-at-large plan proposed by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and
> former mayor and congressman Thomas J. Bliley Jr.
> He asked for a response from Lambert by May 6.
> Lambert responded that he could not sign on to a specific plan when
> another plan is being developed by the Richmond City Council.
> But after attacking McEachin for the "unethical" lapse of trying to
> hold the 9th District seat "hostage" for a deal on the mayor-at-large
> issue, Lambert added:
> "I support the election of the mayor at large by the people of the
> city of Richmond in a manner the voters deem most appropriate."
> McEachin said Lambert's response was so "shrill" that he had not
> focused on the paragraph in which Lambert seemed to agree to the
> mayor-at-large proposal.
> "Given the tenor of his response, I was tempted to strike back and
> engage in a full campaign," McEachin said. "But I have given my word
> [that I would withdraw] and your word ought to be your bond."
> McEachin said he is satisfied that Lambert has moved a long way from
> 1995, when he opposed the mayor-at-large proposal.
> McEachin insisted he could have won the primary. He said he has been
> underestimated before in Democratic primaries and has gone on to win.
> But he said he would have had to self-finance his campaign and, having
> won a concession on the most important issue facing the voters, he
> thought it would be best to withdraw.
> Lambert praised McEachin's decision. He said he was about to send
> McEachin a letter pointing out his agreement to a mayor-at-large
> proposal, if the Richmond voters agree. But the letter was to urge
> McEachin to move on to other issues, he said.
> The Wilder-Bliley commission proposed electing Richmond's
> mayor-at-large, but the person would have to receive a majority of
> votes in five of the city's nine wards.
> A City Council commission studying the same issue is expected to make
> recommendations by the end of June.
> McEachin said he expected the Wilder-Bliley plan to be on the ballot
> this fall and to be approved. Currently, the city's mayor is chosen by
> the council from among its nine members.
> In a 1995 referendum, Richmond voters approved by a 2-1 margin having
> a popularly elected mayor, but the proposal died later in the City
> Council and a General Assembly committee.
> Ever since McEachin entered the race, there have been suggestions that
> he was pushing Wilder's agenda.
> McEachin was the Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2001. He
> lost to Republican Jerry W. Kilgore by a wide margin. If he lost again
> to Lambert, his future in politics might have been limited.
> The 9th District encompasses Charles City County and parts of Richmond
> and Henrico County.
> Contact Tyler Whitley at (804) 649-6780 or twhitley@...