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Car Tax Opposition Propels Gilmore's Candidacy

GOP candidate pulls ahead in Virginia governor's race

By Charles Bierbauer/CNN


FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Oct. 31) -- Republican candidate Jim Gilmore has ridden one issue, Virginia's much-loathed car tax, to a lead in the race for governor.

Gilmore, who campaigned at a Halloween parade on Wednesday night, has turned the property tax on cars into the scariest thing in the race.

Polls show his plan to cut the tax have propelled him ahead of his Democratic opponent, Don Beyer. One survey has Gilmore 13 points ahead.


Beyer's running behind, trying to show there's more trick than treat in Gilmore's proposal to cut Virginia's property tax on vehicles.

Each county sets its own rate. But the tax adds up to hundreds and even thousands of dollars depending on how fancy Virginians' cars are.

Republican Gilmore proposes ending the tax on cars valued up to $20,000. Democrat Beyer offers to offset the car tax with a credit up to $250 for families earning up to $75,000.

Beyer, a car dealer before he was elected lieutenant governor, is a late convert to any cut. He says Gilmore's plan is a "gimmick."

"The slogan from hell, 'No Car Tax,' doesn't tell you the truth," Beyer said. "It takes five full years to phase in, until 2003 ... "

warner gilmore

Gilmore says he's been up front. "You phase it in, and you return the funds back to the counties, the cities dollar for dollar so there's no loss of revenue ... " Gilmore said.

Gilmore has made inroads against Beyer in usually Democratic and more affluent northern Virginia. So Beyer has struck back along the state's political divide, as competing ads playing in the more Republican Southwest show.

One Beyer ad warns of $600 million flowing to Northern Virginia. A Gilmore ad counters, " ... Every tax dollar you pay in Southwest Virginia will stay in Southwest Virginia ..."

Beyer has sought to divert attention from Gilmore's tax plan.

Another of his ads says, "Pat Robertson, the polluters, big tobacco. They all want Jim Gilmore to be governor. Do you?"

virginia richmond

Gilmore dismissed that strategy. "Every year the Democrats try that same old scare tactics toward the end of the campaign," he said.

Beyer's got a potential problem with the African-American vote a Democrat needs, because former Gov. Doug Wilder has withheld his endorsement, though President Bill Clinton has pitched in to help.

The Virginia race is a chance for Democrats to regain a governor's seat. But Republican Gilmore seems to be in the driver's seat, mostly because he's discovered Virginians really get angry about the high cost of getting behind the wheel.

In Other News:

Friday Oct. 31, 1997

Thompson Calls An End To Senate Funds Hearings
Sen. Thompson Says He Thinks Some Witnesses Lied
Fog Delays Clinton's Florida Trip
Car Tax Opposition Propels Gilmore's Candidacy
Two Conservatives Battle For Staten Island Seat
Whitman's Lead Shrinks In N.J. Governor's Race
Are There Ghosts Haunting The White House?

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