- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Republicans voting in primaries in Virginia's 1st and 7th congressional districts yesterday nominated Jo Ann S. Davis and Eric I. Cantor to be the party's candidates for two open U.S. House seats in November.
Mr. Cantor won by an extremely slim margin less than half a percentage point and Mrs. Davis solidly beat an opponent who drastically outspent her.
Republicans consider both seats, which are open because two long-serving Republican congressmen are retiring, to be safe Republican seats. But Democrats have opponents for each seat, including Warren A. Stewart, who announced yesterday he'll run in the 7th District.
Mr. Stewart will face Mr. Cantor, a state delegate, who beat state Sen. Stephen H. Martin. Unofficial final results gave Mr. Cantor a lead of fewer than 200 votes out of almost 42,000 ballots cast.
In the 1st District, Mrs. Davis topped a field of five candidates, beating her nearest challenger, businessman Paul C. Jost, despite Mr. Jost's having spent more than $1 million most of it his own money on the race.
In unofficial results, Mrs. Davis pulled 35 percent of the more than 40,500 ballots, to Mr. Jost's 30 percent. Lawyer Robert L. Cunningham received 6 percent, political consultant Mike I. Rothfeld received 22 percent and retired Marine Phil C. Short got 6 percent.
The results will have to be certified by local boards of elections before being official.
Yesterday's loss is the second dramatic election failure for Mr. Jost, who polls showed pulling away in the last few weeks. In his losing bid for a seat on the Alexandria City Council in 1997, he spent a record $90,000.
Mrs. Davis, who has strong conservative credentials, now faces Democrat Lawrence A. Davies, former mayor of Fredericksburg and the Democrats' candidate in the 1st.
Mr. Jost lost despite an overwhelming spending advantage and having the endorsement of Gov. James S. Gilmore III. The governor was 1-for-2 yesterday, having also endorsed Mr. Cantor, though there may not be much glory to be claimed in Mr. Cantor's unexpectedly slim victory.
The 1st District and 7th District seats opened when Rep. Herbert H. Bateman and Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. announced they were retiring, after 18 and 20 years' in the House, respectively.
Virginia also has a third open seat this year with Rep. Owen B. Pickett, a Democrat from the 2nd District, retiring after 14 years.
Republican state Sen. Edward L. Schrock and Democrat Jody Wagner, a lawyer, are vying for his seat.
Mr. Stewart, the Democrats' candidate in the 7th District, filed with the party for the nomination hours before they closed their process at 7 p.m. yesterday.
Mr. Stewart is the retiring superintendent of schools in Goochland County, northwest of Richmond.
The 7th leans Republican so much that his candidacy will be thought of as a sacrificial lamb, though Democrats say his expertise and credibility on education is bound to resonate with voters.
His candidacy will probably force Republicans to spend more money in the district than they would have otherwise, diverting it away from other races.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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