- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 31, 2004

VIRGINIA BEACH — Republicans reeling from U.S. Rep. Ed Schrock’s decision not to seek a third term yesterday picked a state delegate from Norfolk to replace him on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The 2nd Congressional District Republican Committee voted by secret ballot to nominate Delegate Thelma Drake, a real estate agent, to take on Democratic lawyer David B. Ashe.

Mr. Schrock, 63, popular among conservatives, cited unspecified “allegations” for his surprise decision to retire Monday.

Mrs. Drake, 55, is a reliable member of the House’s conservative Republican majority, serving on the powerful House Finance Committee and opposed a $1.4 billion omnibus tax bill during a discordant 115-day legislative session this year. Seventeen of her fellow Republicans sided with House Democrats on that divisive vote to pass the measure. The taxes take effect today.

Mrs. Drake is in her fifth term in the House of Delegates.

Two other potential contenders for Mr. Schrock’s seat, state Sens. Kenneth W. Stolle and Frank Wagner, both of Virginia Beach, said yesterday they were not interested.

“I had to weigh all the political considerations and the personal considerations, and I’d have had to take a significant pay cut and maintain two houses while I’ve got two kids in college,” Mr. Stolle, a lawyer, said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Wagner, owner of a shipyard that does extensive contracting work for the Navy, said the economic burdens on him would be too great. He would have to sell the shipyard to avoid a conflict of interest with the federal government.

“You ever try to sell a shipyard?” Mr. Wagner said.

The GOP controls eight of the state’s 11 U.S. House seats.

Mr. Ashe, 36, a lawyer and a Marine reservist who served last year in Iraq, said he will change nothing about his campaign because he is confident the GOP will nominate a formidable opponent for him.

“I’m glad that they will because the voters need the choice,” Mr. Ashe said in a telephone interview. “But we’ve got so much momentum that I felt good about it anyway.”

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