|Sunday, May 23, 2004
Triplett vows to bring more energy to economic efforts if he wins election
|The former NASCAR executive is trying to unseat 22-year Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon.
By Paul Dellinger
WYTHEVILLE - Kevin Triplett said Saturday that he would bring more energy and enthusiasm to economic development efforts for Southwest Virginia if he succeeds in unseating Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, in the Nov. 2 election.
"I can't promise jobs," Triplett told reporters after accepting the 9th District Republican nomination at George Wythe High School. "That's the only thing I can guarantee you, is how hard I'm willing to work."
Triplett, who left a 10-year career as a NASCAR executive in June to move back to his native Southwest Virginia, said his contacts in stock car racing include some Fortune 500 companies he might interest in locating in Southwest Virginia.
But he said education is important because the first thing representatives of those companies will ask about is a trained work force.
"Education itself is an industry," said Triplett, whose late father taught for 36 years in Dickenson County schools. "The law school in Buchanan County is a perfect example of what can happen."
Triplett agreed that Boucher has brought representatives of high-tech industries to see potential Southwest Virginia sites and has worked to improve education and training in part by linking high schools, colleges and universities electronically.
"I'm not saying our congressman hasn't done anything," Triplett said. "What I am saying is: Is it enough?" He said Boucher has had 22 years to produce and has landed some call centers in the region in recent years, but those can leave as quickly as they came, he said.
Triplett also said his views are more in step with those of district residents. For example, he supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, not because he thinks changing the Constitution should be the answer to controversies but because, he said, judges are not following the laws on the books and there is no other way to keep marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.
Vice President Dick Cheney gave a fund-raising speech in Roanoke on April 19 on Triplett's behalf.
Bo Harmon, deputy communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Friday in a conference call with reporters that the 9th District is being targeted by the committee as a district where there is a chance to gain a seat.
"We've always kind of had an eye on this seat, because it's a Republican-leaning district," Harmon said. "And so we've always been excited about the possibilities here."
Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, a Republican, said during the same call that he thought Triplett brings more energy to the race than any candidate since the late Jefferson Stafford, a state legislator from Giles County, challenged Boucher in 1984.
William Wampler Sr., a former congressman and the Republican Boucher ousted in a close race in 1982, gave the GOP convention's keynote speech and pledged to work on Triplett's behalf. "There's a lot of fight left in the old Bald Eagle," he said, referring to his nickname. "I'm going to show it this fall, too."
Triplett has reported raising more than $337,000 as of May 10, with more than $218,000 cash on hand.