Republicans were scrambling to find a replacement candidate after U.S. representative Edward L. Schrock of Virginia announced his retirement amid allegations that he is gay. During a hastily arranged meeting Tuesday night, Republicans from Schrock's conservative district--which includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach--made plans to choose a nominee to oppose Democratic lawyer David B. Ashe. The party has just three days to get names on the November 2 ballot, state GOP spokesman Shawn M. Smith said. Two state senators and two members of Virginia's house of delegates were among those mentioned.
Schrock, 63, cited unspecified allegations in a statement he released on Monday as the reason he decided not to seek a third term for Congress. He said the claims "have called into question my ability to represent the citizens of Virginia's second congressional district." In the statement Schrock, a retired Navy officer and Vietnam veteran, would not comment further on his decision, nor did he comment specifically on the claims. Claims that Schrock posted voice-mail messages on commercial telephone services soliciting men for sex were posted on a Web log August 19 by Michael Rogers, who said his blog is aimed at exposing "hypocrites" in Congress. "We're shocked and stunned more than saddened right now," said Virginia Beach Republican Party chairman Mark McKinney, who said Schrock retired because of the accusation posted on BlogActive.com. "What I read on the Internet was a complete and utter surprise to me."
Ashe said he was shocked by the move. "Wow. I had not heard that. That's really something," Ashe said in a telephone interview. He said his thoughts were with Schrock and his family and he thanked the congressman for his career of service.
Schrock is married and a conservative who has voted for legislation to ban same-sex marriage. The retired Navy officer and Vietnam veteran said he would not comment further on his decision to step down. "I am totally, totally shocked and disappointed. Whatever it is, he should have stayed in and fought it. He's a good Republican," said Juanita Bailey of Newport News, a delegate at the Republican National Convention in New York. U.S. representative Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, said Schrock had indicated he was considering retiring when he spoke to him last week. "He's a very intense guy, and he's got a lot of things going on in his life," he said. "I'm really sorry to see him leave."
Schrock was elected to the seat in a 2000 Republican sweep of Virginia in an area that is home to the world's largest U.S. naval base. In January 2001, Schrock was elected president of the Republican House freshman class and landed a seat on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.