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Without Candidate, Conservative Pastors Disband

A coalition of two dozen or so conservative pastors who previously attempted to draft former Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney David Hicks to run for Richmond mayor has ended its association.

Word of the split comes the same day Hicks, who has decided not to run, announced officially his endorsement of Delegate Dwight C. Jones for mayor.

"This group no longer exists any longer," says the Rev. Joe Ellison, who had acted as the unofficial organization's unofficial spokesman. "Being that David's not running, and now that [Mayor L. Douglas] Wilder decided not to run, the pastor's group dismantled.

"This whole group was focusing on the campaign of David Hicks … our focus and synergy was behind David," he says. "Now, the pastors will individually endorse who they want to."

Hicks was not available for comment, but previously had expressed his appreciation of the group's support. After a Hicks run began to look doubtful, the group began to shed members, shrinking by about half from its initial 50 or so.

Ellison and another member of the group met with Wilder at City Hall a few weeks ago to discuss endorsing his bid for a second term, but that plan ended last week with Wilder's announcement that he would not seek a second term.

Meanwhile, Ellison says, the group could not come to a consensus on backing any of the remaining candidates, including Jones, who also an ordained minister and pastor of First Baptist Church, South Richmond.

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