Naturally, both Wilder and Coleman were seen as spoilers by many observers. The national press was all over the circus-like story of the four heavyweight candidates.
In late August, I issued what was then my fourth set of collectible cards -- “Campaign Inkbites: The ‘94 VA Senate Race.”
After swearing he was in the race 'til the finish, mercurial Wilder suddenly withdrew in October. Wooden Coleman stayed the course, with stubborn Sen. John Warner as his chief backer. North, ever the checkered-shirted dandy, raised and spent over $25 million; what was then a new record for the most ever in a U.S. Senate race ... any state.
In the end the awkward Robb outlasted them all.
Beneath the 1994 newspaper article about that card collection are scans of 12 of the 15 original cards from the set. Without the context of this campaign's news being fresh, some of my attempts at humor may not work so well now, hopefully the caricatures are still fun to look at.
As I produced these cards, it was an interesting challenge to try to write lines for the dialogue balloons that would hold up for a month or two, no matter what the developments.
Right out of the gate, this edition was lucky with publicity -- first an AP story, then a five-minute report by Bob Woodruff appeared on CNN, following the Sept. 6, 1994 Virginian-Pilot piece (by David Poole and Dwayne Yancey) reprinted below.
Odds and ends from the past week of Virginia's U.S. Senate campaign: I'll swap you two Doug Wilders for a Tai Collins. The colorful U.S. Senate race has spawned a set of trading cards featuring the four candidates and a host of supporting characters - including the former Miss Virginia who gave a nude massage to Chuck Robb in a New York hotel.In all, about 250 sets of cards were sold in about seven weeks. Wisely, Sabato also bought the original artwork for his card.
There’s U.S. Sen. John Warner sounding defensive about his hand-picked candidate, Marshall Coleman: “Why should I strain to name an office he hasn't sought, or an abortion stance he hasn't taken? The point is: Marshall isn't Ollie.”
There’s conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh assessing the race: “The choice in Virginia is simple. You’ve got a stained, lap-dog liberal, a bleached and petulant liberal, a fair-weather conservative, and a genuine, world-class hero.”
There’s political pundit Larry Sabato reporting on the latest poll results: “Fifty-one percent said the race is so embarrassing they plan to leave the state.”
The “Campaign Inkbites” are the brainchild of F.T. Rea, a Richmond artist who a decade ago issued a similar deck of cards commemorating a massive death-row escape at Mecklenberg Correctional Center [by the notorious Briley brothers and four others]. The set of 15 Senate cards is available at Biff’s bookstore [also at Chickens, the snack bar in the State Capitol] in Richmond for $12 a pack.
The most unflattering likeness in the set is that of Sabato, whose green skin gives him the look of a vampire.
“Ironically, he’s my best customer,” Rea said of Sabato. “He bought 12 packs.”