Yep, Allen was ready to primary Wolf

On the fine blog, there is a post that references a wikipedia entry regarding George Allen, and asks if George Allen actually considered a primary campaign against Frank Wolf in 1992.

The answer is yes. However, my lengthy explanation is appropriate of its own place in the blogosphere…so here it is:

The wikipedia entry is accurate….

Let me give you as much as I can the full story.

The old seventh congressional district (or, as the GOP called it, the “Lucky Seventh”) ran from Winchester to Charlottesville and was primarily the virginia Piedmont. Allen won the seat in 1991 in a special election when French Slaughter resigned due to ill health. Allen beat Slaughter’s son French III for the nomination, then defeated Kay Slaughter (a cousin, I believe) in the general.

In the redistricting following the 1990 census, Virginia got a new congressional seat, and the boundaries that had generally been in play for the state’s congressional districts changed. Allen’s home and legal residence went into the fifth or the seventh, and the large south/ south eastern portions of the old seventh became part of a new seventh that reached to the richmond suburbs….which were not only the geographic lion on the new seventh but also the home of Tom Bliley, who had been 3rd district congressman since 1981. The new third covered turf east of richmond, but not the GOP vote-rich areas of Henrico and Chesterfield.

A huge and GOP vote rich part of the Old Seventh was moved into Va-10, represented since 1981 by Frank Wolf. Allen had a cabin/vacation home in the new 10th, and considered making that his legal residence and running against Wolf in a primary.

It led to one of the more interesting foot races in capital hill. Allen was quoted in the paper as saying he might challenge Wolf. Allen had not spoken to Wolf on the matter. Wolf, a mild-mannered gentleman who is about 5′8″, and who frequently says being a congressman is his dream job of a lifetime, was quite upset that he had not been consulted on the matter. He went up to Allen on the house floor, got up in his grill, and told him (in the current venacular) to “bring it on”, and that if Allen ran against him Wolf would raise all the money he could and crush in a primary. Wolf then walked back to his office. Allen was at first stunned, unsure what to do, then followed Wolf back to his office…apparently the cowboy boots impeded the natural stride advantage Allens should have had, as Allen did not catch up to Wolf until several minutes after Wolf got back to the Cannon Building. Allen asked if he could see Congressman Wolf, and then had a bad thirty minutes of it.

On top of this, the GOP leadership all advised Allen that he could not win a primary against Wolf, and advised him (and chief among these apparently was John Gregory, then Manassas GOP chairman) to run for another office, perhaps Governor in 1993. The GOP got swept in 1989, and there was no obvious candidate to go to. We know the rest of that story.

It should be noted that this was not the first time redistricting forced a GOP office holder out and up. Following the 1970 census Congressman Willam Scott (R-Va8) was apportioned out of his district. Rather than find another congressional seat for the 1972 election, he ran against and defeated incumbent Senator Bill Spong. Scott later gained recognition as the “Dumbest Man in the Senate”, and did not run for re-election in 1978.

And that’s what happened with George’s short lived thoughts about primarying Frank Wolf.


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