The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sen. Potts rallies support at Strasburg campaign stop

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

STRASBURG — As the sun set over the Shenandoah Valley on Monday evening, H. Russell Potts Jr. made one of the last stops in his run for Richmond.

The independent gubernatorial candidate and Republican state senator from Winchester visited Strasburg High School’s practice field, where he gave a brief pep talk to the football team.

Coach Glenn Proctor met Potts as he walked onto the field and pulled him into a strong embrace.

The two have known each other since they first came to Strasburg in the 1960s — Potts as sports editor of The Northern Virginia Daily, Proctor as a coach fresh out of college.

The Rams play their final regular-season game against George Mason on Friday.

“You’ve got this game coming up on Friday night and I want to wish you all the luck in the world,” Potts told the team, gathered around to hear the stump speech turned pep talk.

“It’s not the size of the man in the play, it’s the size of the play in the man,” he said.

Proctor has built what was one of the worst football programs in the region into a perennial contender and sometime powerhouse, Potts said. That’s something the players should keep in mind.

“Purple pride means something,” Potts told the team.

The candidate kept the politics to a bare minimum.

“Pull for me tomorrow, I’ve got a big challenge. I’m running for governor,” he said, before looking briefly back toward Proctor.

“Someday you’re going to tell your grandchildren that you played for a legend,” he said.

The team starts its drills again, and Potts shakes a few hands. Proctor hugs his friend again, and Potts heads toward the car.

It’s been a long road from Richmond in February to Strasburg, 16 hours before the polls open.

“I’m a huge underdog, but I tell you, we’ve fought this thing like we were either 10 points ahead or one point behind,” he said.

In hindsight, the campaign would have had more punch with more time.

“I would have gotten in earlier,” he said. “I knew it would be tough to raise money. But it’s an obscene amount of money for $25 million to be spent by both candidates.”

“I sincerely believe if we’d have been able to raise $5 [million] to $7 million dollars, you’d have been shocked,” he said. “We’ve absolutely got the right message. I’m convinced of it.”

And today may bring its own surprises, despite indications that Potts will bring in 2 to 4 percent of the vote, while Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine are in a virtual tie.

“We’re going to do much better than these polls,” he said.

Potts said he has no regrets.

“I don’t regret it for a minute,” he said. “I got into this race on principle, I’ll finish on principle.”