- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Rep. Gary A. Condit has opened a re-election office and triggered fresh speculation about his political future in a dramatically redrawn district.

Mr. Condit began this week to gather 3,000 voter signatures to get on the Democratic primary ballot, campaign consultant Richard Ross said.

Mr. Ross said gathering voter signatures is the best way to see if Mr. Condit has a chance of getting elected to an eighth term.

"He believes this would give him the most accurate read on his viability," Mr. Ross said.

"To get 3,000 petitions, you have to talk to 6,000 or 7,000 people and each conversation has to be done face to face.

"You get a pretty good read. They're either signing or slamming the door."

Mr. Condit has not said publicly whether he plans to run for re-election.

The congressman's popularity eroded this summer after months of national scrutiny over a relationship with Chandra Levy, a Washington intern who has been missing since May.

He also lost much of his voter base through redistricting.

The state Legislature moved the boundaries of the 18th Congressional District, and 40 percent of its voters are new to Mr. Condit.

Democrats fear it could be a bloody fight.

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