- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Republicans are trying to carve out a congressional district in Virginia for Oliver L. North.
This time it does not appear that the bitter left-right Republican split of 1994, which cost the former White House national security staffer a Senate seat, will play a role.
The plan calls for Mr. North, the retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who became a national hero for many Americans during the Iran-Contra congressional hearings in the late 1980s, to go up against incumbent Democrat Rick Boucher in a district that Mr. North carried in his 1994 senatorial race.
Republican National Chairman and Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III yesterday noted that Mr. North, who hosts his own radio show, generates enthusiasm among rank-and-file voters and party leaders as few other Republicans do.
"Ollie would be a fantastic candidate," Mr. Gilmore told The Washington Times. "He can raise money like few other people, he has star quality and people love him.
"I know, because Ive been with him on the campaign trail and Ive seen it happen," said Mr. Gilmore. "He will bring great excitement to a district that has not seen any in years."
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman from Falls Church, also had nice words for Mr. North.
"I would encourage Ollie and would support him if he chose to run in the 9th District," Mr. Davis told The Washington Times. "Having said that, it is up to the Virginia state legislature to determine the new boundaries of the congressional districts."
Mr. North narrowly lost to Democrat Charles Robb in the 1994 Senate contest, thanks to orchestrated opposition by Sen. John W. Warner and the liberal Republican establishment in Northern Virginia.
After Mr. North defeated James Miller, the Warner-backed Reagan administration budget director, for the Republican Senate nomination, Mr. Warner recruited liberal Republican J. Marshall Coleman to run as an independent.
That made it a three-way race. Mr. North, popular virtually everywhere but in Northern Virginia, nearly pulled it out anyway, garnering only 46,163 fewer votes than Mr. Robb, the incumbent.
Mr. North told The Washington Times he would run for Mr. Bouchers seat next year, provided his fellow Republicans in the state want him to and that they can find a way to extend the 9th District east and north to include Mr. Norths home in Clarke County, which is now part of Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolfs district.
Mr. Wolf has the most populous district, partly because of the explosive growth of Loudoun County. Mr. Wolfs district will have to shed about 150,000 residents when the Republican-controlled state legislature sits down to draw new lines for all congressional districts in the state beginning July 19.
One task for the Virginia legislature will be to decide how the 9th District is to be expanded geographically to satisfy the reapportionment required by last years census. The state lawmakers, however, are expected to follow the wishes of the Republican members of the Virginia congressional delegation.
Its not clear whether key congressional Republicans Robert W. Goodlatte and Mr. Wolf, as well as Virgil H. Goode Jr., a conservative-leaning independent who votes with the Republican House Conference, would be willing to give up those parts of their current districts that would permit a run by Mr. North.
Asked if Mr. Warner still bore political animosity toward Mr. North, Warner spokesman Carter Cornick said, "Because we have no knowledge about redistricting issues relative to the 9th District, were unable to comment on the matter."
Many Virginia Republicans privately maintain that the success or failure of the effort to carve out a district for Mr. North will depend more on Mr. Goodlatte than on any other House Republican from Virginia.
A 9th District extended to include Mr. North would be a narrow, rural, coal-mining and farming area running more than 400 miles along the Kentucky, West Virginia and Maryland borders.
"Yes, it would be long, but guess what — we dont travel by horseback anymore," said Jim Ferreira, 9th District Republican Party chairman.
Mr. Gilmore said the 9th, which has been losing population for the last 20 years, somehow will have to be extended eastward in order to pick up more population for redistricting.
Although some Republican advisers privately called the proposed elongation of the 9th District a "stretch," Mr. Ferreira said, "If the 9th worked out this way, it would be one of the most dynamic districts in the south. This is not a land grab. We have to meet the requirements of normal-sized districts."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide