- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) U.S. Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. said Sunday he now considers himself a Republican, but isn't sure when the switch will become official.
"I don't know when you will see it switched on the voting screen [in Congress]," said Mr. Goode, who announced Saturday that he would accept the Republican nomination to run for re-election this year.
When Mr. Goode, 55, left the Democratic Party after 26 years, he agreed to caucus with the Republicans in Congress. The alliance helped him get a choice assignment in the House Appropriations Committee.
Becoming a Republican will help him advance within that committee, Mr. Goode said Sunday.
"My district can be better helped if I'm a Republican member of the Appropriations Committee versus an independent member," he said.
Mr. Goode, of Rocky Mount, also said that being listed as an independent on the ballot of certain voting machines makes it hard for voters to locate his name.
"The last time, I had to send out mailings to voters where I printed out the whole ballot and put a red circle around my name," Mr. Goode said.
Mr. Goode's announcement illustrates the change from a time when the South was a one-party region and even conservatives aligned themselves with the Democrats. On Saturday, Republicans in Virginia celebrated Mr. Goode's announcement as a sign that times are changing and old barriers are coming down.
Mr. Goode's father and grandfather both were Democrats, he said.
But "both my grandfather and father, if living, would not agree with a number of positions of the national Democrats," Mr. Goode said.
Because voters in Virginia are not required to register with a party, Mr. Goode said he didn't know when the switch would take effect officially.
Ed Matricardi, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, said Mr. Goode probably will become a Republican on paper when he files his declaration of candidacy with the state Board of Elections in April.
"I don't know whether they will say April is the magic date," Mr. Goode said.
Tucker Watkins, chairman of the 5th District Republican Party, said Mr. Goode would join the GOP once he is re-elected, because he was elected as an independent the last time.
Mr. Goode was first elected to Congress in 1996. He is unopposed in the June 11 primary and the November election.

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