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Lambert in "Trouble," Wilder Losing Steam, According to Poll


Numbers rustled up by a Northern Virginia pollster suggest that former Sen. George Allen may have a new hombre on the Reagan Ranch.

State Sen. Benjamin "Benny" Lambert, who hitched his political wagon to the recently unseated Allen, "is in serious trouble in his quest for re-election to the Virginia State Senate from District 9," begins a report commissioned by Lambert's Democratic primary challenger, Henrico Delegate Donald McEachin.

If McEachin runs against Lambert, "he is poised to win by a decisive margin," according to the report, prepared by Pete Brodnitz of the Benenson Strategy Group and dated March 11. Last week, McEachin formally announced his bid for state senate.

Not surprisingly, the report blames Lambert's support of the defeated Allen for Lambert's loss of voter confidence.

After suffering an unfortunate campaign trail bout of Tourette's, Republican incumbent Allen lost by a hair's breadth in his race against Democrat Jim Webb. Last week, Allen announced he'd found a paycheck as the Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar for the conservative Young America's Foundation.

In the McEachin-commissioned study, polling results show McEachin leading with 52 percent of respondents. Lambert got 28 percent. "It is rare to see an incumbent losing before the campaign has even begun, especially by such a wide margin," the report opines.

The poll, conducted in early March, targeted 401 registered voters who said they were likely to participate in the Democratic primary.

But Lambert, who's done his own polling, says his climb is less steep than the sheer cliff predicted by Brodnitz's poll.

"It was not as bad as the one [Brodnitz] had on me," says Lambert, estimating his deficit somewhere closer to 15 percentage points. "Hard work makes changes."

Lambert, who is already planting campaign placards around the city, insists that McEachin's criticism of his support for Allen is shortsighted.

"If I can support a U.S. senator to support something he wouldn't normally support, I think I'm in good shape," says Lambert, who says he endorsed Allen because of his support for a bill to fund historically black colleges. The bill, which passed the U.S. Senate, died in the House.

A later version of the bill containing $250 million for black colleges — half the amount in Allen's bill — was resubmitted by Webb and Republican Sen. John Warner and passed both houses.

Brodnitz's poll also found some interesting numbers for other Richmond politicians.

Gov. Tim Kaine, for whom Brodnitz previously did work, boasts a 64 percent "very favorable" rating among Democratic primary voters, with an overall 77 percent "favorable" rating.

Rating not as high was Mayor Doug Wilder, showing a 35 percent "very favorable" and an overall 75 percent favorability rate.

Meanwhile, on the Reagan Ranch, Allen is shoveling horse stalls with a whopping 72 percent unfavorable rating among the Democratic-leaning voters. The poll states a margin of error of plus or minus 4.89 percent. S

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