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The Democrats' grip is beginning to weaken

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Races of the WeekTriplett vs. Boucher

The Democrats’ grip is beginning to weaken

It was 20 years ago when Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher faced his last competitive challenge in Virginia’s 9th–so far back that the Republican nominee from that race is dead. Since securing his second term in 1984, Boucher has coasted to re-elections and, all the while voting the liberal line (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 13%).

This is considered pathetic by conservatives in the Old Dominion’s “Fighting 9th” District bordering Tennessee, which earned this nickname because of its historically rancorous politics. In 2000, the 9th gave George W. Bush a handsome 55% of the vote and Republican Sen. George Allen 57%. In ’01, it gave Republican Jerry Kilgore a whopping 69% of the vote in his winning race for attorney general.

This year, time and events may have caught up with the 55-year-old Boucher in this GOP-leaning district. Republicans have a first-rate candidate in Kevin Triplett, until last year managing director of business operations for NASCAR. With help from a wide circle of old friends from his native Dickinson County in the district as well as his buddies in the car racing industry. (The 20 top drivers in the nation have contributed to his campaign.) The 39-year-old Triplett has so far raised more than $337,000 for his challenge to Boucher.

“When I talk to people, they are amazed to learn just where my opponent stands on issues they care about,” says Triplett, “But he voted seven times against a ban on partial birth abortion, for tax dollars to develop an abortion-inducing drug, against permitting display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings, and five times against a ban on flag desecration.” The conservative GOP hopeful also hammers the incumbent for opposing President Bush’s tax cuts in ’01 and ’03–“cuts that have helped create new jobs elsewhere and are especially needed here in the 9th, where the rates of unemployment and people living below the poverty level are higher than the national average.”

After so many election cycles of ignoring opponents, Boucher has begun to show a bit of nervousness about the hard-charging Triplett. “His own fund-raising letters attack me for living in Daytona before moving here last year,” notes Triplett. “What he doesn’t mention is that I was born and raised here in Dickinson County, that my mother and grandmother have always lived here, and that my wife and I had planned to move back to raise our young children long before we had any idea of running for office.”

Taking his message of conservatism and opportunity to 4-H, Kiwanis Clubs and church suppers across the district, Triplett inevitably credits his success to his growing up in the 9th. As for his lack of political experience, “I studied journalism at East Tennessee State College and was a reporter before I joined NASCAR. That was an entirely new field, but I did pretty well because I could adapt to something different and work hard at it. Those are things I learned as a child here, and that’s the spirit I want to bring to Congress.”

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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