- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

RICHMOND — Forget the party line.

Virginia lawmakers’ loyalties in Super Bowl XXXIX have nothing to do with politics — and everything to do with winning.

But no consensus can be found among their reasons for backing the New England Patriots or the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Who wouldn’t support a team with the name Patriots?” asks Delegate Viola O. Baskerville, a Richmond Democrat who went to high school in New England.

“I like underdogs,” says Delegate Adam P. Ebbin, Alexandria Democrat, explaining his support for the Eagles. “They haven’t won in awhile,” he says.

Delegate Kristen J. Amundson isn’t pulling for the Patriots as much as she is pulling against the Eagles. “As if any Redskins fan could root for the Eagles,” the Fairfax County Democrat says with a sniff.

Others in the Patriots’ camp: Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert, Richmond Democrat; Delegate Bill Janis, Goochland Republican; Delegate Ryan T. McDougle, Mechanicsville Republican; and Sen. William T. Bolling, Mechanicsville Republican.

Lining up behind the Eagles: Sen. H. Russell Potts, Winchester Republican; Delegate R. Steven Landes, Weyers Cave Republican; and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Charlottesville Democrat.

Delegate Chris B. Saxman won’t be picking sides. “I am too depressed that the [Pittsburgh] Steelers lost to even think about the game,” the Staunton Republican says.

And House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford Republican, says he “couldn’t care less” who wins the National Football League championship tomorrow in Jacksonville, Fla.

Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Chairman John H. Chichester has scheduled his panel’s most important meeting of the year for 3 p.m. tomorrow, when it will present its version of budget amendments.

Mr. Chichester, a Stafford County Republican and Patriots fan, said he will try to wrap up the usually long meeting by 4 p.m.

For Mr. Potts, the game can heal and inspire as much as it thrills its spectators.

“It’s one of those events that really brings this country together as a nation,” he said. “Some of those young men came from humble beginnings and now they have a chance for fame and glory. That’s what makes America such a great country. Only in America can a Donovan McNabb or Tom Brady have that chance.”

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