- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2000

Democrats are within reach of taking control of the House, but they may not get any help from Virginia, where the retirement of a conservative Democrat may finally swing the state's congressional delegation toward Republicans.

Three open House seats on the ballot are now held by two Republicans and a Democrat, and Republicans have an excellent chance of winning all three. Add to that Virgil H. Goode Jr., who left the Democratic Party to become an independent and who now caucuses with Republicans, placing the GOP firmly in the driver's seat of the state delegation.

The critical race is the 2nd District covering Virginia Beach and parts of Norfolk home to Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition as well as the largest naval base in the world.

Retiring Rep. Owen B. Pickett, a Democrat, has held the seat for 14 years, even as Republican-leaning Virginia Beach has surpassed strongly Democratic Norfolk as the majority of the district.

"Sure, absolutely, this is a pickup seat for the Republicans," said Edward L. "Ed" Schrock, a Republican state senator in his second term. "This is why I work day and night to keep the House. I think by helping the Republicans keep the majority I am helping the District."

Opposing the former 24-year Navy veteran is Jody M. Wagner, a lawyer and socialite in Virginia Beach whose money-raising ability has given her a shot in her first run for elected office.

A poll conducted by the Virginian-Pilot a month ago showed a large percentage of voters still undecided. Mr. Schrock led 30 percent to Ms. Wagner's 20 percent, with the remainder uncommitted.

Both have said their party leadership has promised a seat on the House Armed Services Committee a slot Mr. Pickett holds and one that is vital in bringing back projects to a district with a large military presence.

In the past month, Ms. Wagner has run television ads criticizing Mr. Schrock's conservative voting record and accusing him of ethics violations.

Mr. Schrock, she said, raised money for his election during the last General Assembly.

"This race, to me, is about making sure the citizens of this district are represented by a responsible person," said Ms. Wagner, noting her lack of concern for whether Democrats take back the House.

Mr. Schrock said raising money for a federal race doesn't violate the state law, which only applies to money for state races.

He said the attacks amount to "character assassination."

For his part, Mr. Schrock said his opponent did not have the credentials to serve in the U.S. House.

"She hasn't had one moment of elected experience," Mr. Schrock said.

In the solidly Republican 1st District which stretches from the hills of Fredericksburg to Newport News four candidates are vying for the seat held by Herbert H. Bateman, who had planned to retire after this session but died in September.

State Delegate Jo Ann S. Davis, who fended off five other Republicans including a multimillion-dollar campaign by Paul C. Jost for the nomination to the seat, is the front-runner. Former Fredericksburg Mayor Lawrence A. Davies, a Democrat, and two independents, Josh Billings and Sharon A. Wood, round out the ballot.

While Mr. Davies has been a popular politician since the days of the Civil Rights movement, Mrs. Davis' organizing strength, cash and party affiliation have helped her pull ahead in the race. She has raised $350,000 more than double Mr. Davies' fund-raising in the fight for the seat.

In the 7th District, which 20-year incumbent Thomas J. Bliley Jr. is vacating, state Delegate Eric I. Cantor is the heavy favorite in the strongly Republican region after winning the party primary against state Sen. Stephen H. Martin. Mr. Cantor now faces a former county school superintendent, Democrat Warren A. Stewart.

Northern Virginia's three seats look safe for their incumbents.

In the 11th District in central Fairfax County and Prince William County, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III is fending off Democrat M.L. "Mike" Corrigan, who hasn't received the funding to make him a threat, and Libertarian candidate Robert K. McBride. C.W. "Levi" Levy also is on the ballot.

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. is again facing Demaris H. Miller, the Republican he beat handily two years ago, in the 8th District, which covers Arlington, Alexandria and the southeastern part of Fairfax County. Mr. Moran has raised more funds than Mrs. Miller by almost 4 to 1, and even his recent agreement to pay back what appeared to be an improper loan will not likely make a difference. Libertarians are running a candidate, Ronald V. Crickenberger, and independent Richard Lee "Rick" Herron is on the ballot as well.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf has no Democratic opponent in the 10th District, which runs from western Fairfax County out to West Virginia, but the Libertarians have put Brian M. Brown up against him and Marc A. Rossi, another independent, is also on the ballot.

Elsewhere in the state, Democrats Robert C. "Bobby" Scott in the 3rd District and Norman Sisisky in the 4th are unopposed, as is Republican incumbent Robert W. "Bob" Goodlatte in the 6th District.

An underfunded Republican, Michael D. "Oz" Osborne, is running in the 9th District against shoo-in incumbent Democrat Frederick C. "Rick" Boucher.

And in the 5th District Mr. Goode, the independent running with the backing of Republicans, is heavily favored over Democrat John W. Boyd Jr. and independent Joseph S. Spence.

• Stephen Dinan contributed to this article.

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