In early 1994, Virginia Senator Chuck Robb appeared extremely vulnerable. Once touted as a potential Democratic presidential candidate, Robb spent much of his first term defending himself against charges that he had attended parties where drugs were used, had engaged in extramarital affairs, and had known that his aides had possessed illegally taped cellular telephone conversations of long-time rival Governor Douglas Wilder.
Robb's difficulties began soon before he launched his campaign in March 1994. He issued a letter to Virginia Democratic leaders and activists in which he admitted to having extramarital sex, although he consistently denied that this contact had ever included inter-course. This fine distinction made him no friends among moral conservatives, who disapproved of any extramarital activity, or among liberals, who found his behavior sexist and his account implausible.
Yet on election night, Robb survived a Republican tidal wave to win a surprisingly easy victory over Republican candidate Oliver North, of Iran-Contra notoriety. North spent approximately $20 million, more than four times Robb's total, and deployed a huge volunteer army that covered the state with placards. He had the strong endorsements of Reverends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and could count on the organizational efforts of the Christian Coalition, the Family Foundation, and the National Rifle Association. In the home state of the former Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, however, North failed to carry Lynchburg (a stronghold of Falwell and the former Moral Majority), or Chesapeake, and only narrowly carried Virginia Beach (home of both Robertson and the Christian Coalition).