- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

RICHMOND — Delegate John S. “Jack” Reid, one of the General Assembly’s most outspoken conservative members and author of some of its most distinctive legislation the past 18 years, said yesterday he will not seek re-election this fall.

Mr. Reid, known for a deep Dixie drawl delivered in a booming baritone, cited his age, 64, and his need to spend more time with his wife and two grown children as reasons he will give up his safe seat from the conservative Richmond suburb of Henrico County.

The self-appointed chairman of the House “Sensitivity Caucus,” an informal group of Republican delegates so named because of its penchant for lampooning themselves and others, announced his decision with the same bring-it-on attitude that was his trademark.

“I would hope that the people who have supported me for 18 years will be really glad they did because I did exactly what I said I was going to do,” Mr. Reid said when asked at a press conference what he hoped his legacy would be. “And I would hope that those people that did not support me for the last 18 years will be glad they didn’t because I did exactly what I said I was going to do.”

Mr. Reid, chairman of the General Laws Committee, becomes the seventh Republican legislator — four of them from the House and three of them committee chairmen — to announce he will not run when all 140 General Assembly seats will be up for grabs in November’s election.

It marks the greatest drain of seniority, power and institutional memory from the legislature since 2001, the year redistricting solidified the Republicans’ dominance of the House and Senate. That year, 12 senior Democrats who had been the most powerful leaders of the House before the 1999 Republican takeover did not seek re-election.

Mr. Reid was known over the span of his House career for his willingness to sponsor bills with a strong conservative or libertarian bent certain to generate headlines. Among the more celebrated was a 2004 bill that banned nudist summer camps for teenagers after a nudist park in Isle of Wight County was host to such an event the preceding year.

The legislation became national news, and Mr. Reid recalled it as among his more gratifying legislative and legal victories. The American Civil Liberties Union unsuccessfully sued in federal court in an effort to prevent the measure from taking effect.

Other legislation included unsuccessful efforts to remove the requirement that motorcyclists wear helmets, to authorize nonprofit liquor tastings, and to deny illegal aliens in-state tuition at state-supported colleges and universities.

But no event earned Mr. Reid the international coverage and embarrassment than the accidental discharge of his handgun in his legislative office last year as he tried to unload it. The bullet was absorbed by body armor that was hanging on his office door. Visibly shaken, Mr. Reid took the unusual step of apologizing in person to the closed-door caucuses of the Republicans and the Democrats, then apologized in a House floor speech.

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