Deeds Campaigns in Hampton Roads
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds visited two African-American churches in the Tidewater area, meeting and greeting people but not giving formal remarks from a pulpit.
At the Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Newport News, Deeds sat with his wife, Pam, as a member of the church gave a foot-stomping bluesy rendition of "Amazing Grace." Overhead was a mural of a white hand clasping a black hand and the words, "Each One, Reach One," What the crowd lacked in size--there were perhaps 100 people--they made up for in spirit.
"We're trying to reach everybody," Deeds in an interview afterwards at another stop in Portsmouth. But Deeds also acknowledged that the potential impact of the black vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary is "huge."
"That's where Terry's entire emphasis is," Deeds said. "So we'll see."
Deeds also pressed the flesh in Postmouth, a city of 100,000 with Sen. Yvonne B. Miller, an African-American Democrat from Norfolk. Deeds greeted diners at Roger Brown's Restaurant and Sports Bar, which is owned by the eponymous former Los Angeles defensive tackle.
Though Brown was glad to host Deeds' visit, he said he still had not made up his mind.
"I'm still looking," Brown, 72, of Portsmouth, said while waiting for Deeds to arrive. Brown, who has a picture of himself with former Republican Gov. George Allen, also said other members of the African-American community were no different than the electorate at large: still mostly undecided, and interested in the same topics, such as jobs. Looking around the empty tables, he said everybody still worries about the overall economy.
"The African-American community is no different than the white community, or the Asian community, or whatever," Brown said. "They want a fair shake. They want jobs. They want to advancement. They want a safe neighborhood."
So far, however, the campaign has not caught on with most of his patrons.
"There is a buzz, but there's not a lot," Brown said. "They know somebody's going to be elected. They're just hoping that whoever is going to be their salvation. They're looking for a miracle worker."
Then Deeds and his entourage showed up.
"This is Deeds, right?" Brown said.
One of the diners Deeds greeted there was Theresa Bateman. Bateman, 57, still wearing her usher's name plate on her white Sunday meeting dress, said she was following the election closely and would probably vote for Deeds "because of his overall views."
After mingling with diners, Deeds went around the corner to Brutti's Bistro accompanied by its owner, Charles Greenhood, who told patrons, "That's our next governor."
At the Commodore Theatre, a magnificently restored movie house and restaurant, Deeds' wife was so impressed she joked about switching the Tuesday night party to the place. The owners said they planned to put his name on the marque.
"From what I've heard about him, I'd support him," said the movie house's owner, Fred Schoenfeld, 64.
As a small business owner, Schoenfeld said he felt comfortable with Deeds' place to the right of his opponents on the ideological spectrum.
"What a lot of politicians don't understand is, small businesses are the engine of this economy," Schoenfeld said. "We need someone who's a small town guy."
His wife, Jean Haskell, 62, a retired Virginia Tech professor, said she felt comfortable with Deeds' roots in rural, mountainous Virginia.
"Having met him, I can tell I really like the sort of person he is," Haskell said.
June 7, 2009; 4:33 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell
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