|Saturday, July 03, 2004
Alleghany County teacher enters 9th District race
|Seth Davis will be on the ballot as an independent alongside Democratic incumbent Rep. Rick Boucher and Republican challenger Kevin Triplett.
By Paul Dellinger
A high school teacher from Clifton Forge has joined the 9th District congressional race.
Seth Davis, who teaches history and government at Alleghany County High School, will be on the Nov. 2 ballot as an independent candidate alongside Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, and former NASCAR executive Kevin Triplett, a Republican.
"I figured that I would run partly to show my students what it's like to run for national office with very little money," Davis, 31, said Friday.
"Well, I could show them that," said Triplett, when he learned of Davis' candidacy. "I'd be glad and be perfectly willing to talk to his class."
A spokeswoman for Boucher said the congressman was unaware of a third-party candidate and had no comment.
Another reason for running, Davis said, is to be what he calls an "anti-politician," one who makes no promises except to vote on legislation on the basis of what he feels is best for the district and his own core beliefs.
Those include an anti-abortion stance, general support for lower taxes and particular opposition to congressional pork-barrel projects, support of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and a greater national focus on the war on drugs.
"Too many times, politicians just say things people want to hear," Davis said. For example, he said, he would like to promise more jobs for the district, but he has no control over whether a plant closes.
Davis said he had not been sure how to qualify for the ballot and learned that what it takes is getting signatures from 1,000 registered district voters. He got those in Alleghany County, Blacksburg and Christiansburg, he said, and about 500 more just to be sure he had 1,000 who were registered.
He was surprised to learn that there is no cost involved. "The only money I spent was gas money," he said. "It's been a lot of fun, going from door to door."
Davis plans to do much of his campaigning that way but recognizes that he cannot visit all the localities in a district stretching west all the way to Lee County.
"I've met Boucher at a town meeting. He seems like a nice guy. I haven't met Triplett yet," he said.
He said he would like to join a debate among the district candidates, if one is scheduled. "My big goal is to win Alleghany County. I don't know if I can do that," he said.
"He will not carry Alleghany County," predicted University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato.
"Boucher is in pretty good shape in the 9th. This race is unlikely even to be close," he said.
Sabato said a better way for Davis to acquaint students with the political process would be to encourage them to get involved in the campaigns of Triplett or Boucher, instead of running as a candidate himself. "But that's his right as an American," Sabato added.
Triplett, who just announced an endorsement from the 600,000-member National Federation of Independent Business Save America's Free Enterprise Trust Political Action Committee, said he, like Davis, majored in history and that interest is one of the factors prompting him to challenge Boucher, the 22-year incumbent.
Davis lived mostly in Kentucky, Mississippi and Maryland growing up. His father, a Presbyterian minister, moved to different assignments. Davis earned his history degree from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., and a master's in sports administration at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. He taught high school for three years in Mississippi and did some coaching before coming to Alleghany County five years ago.
His biggest contributor so far has been his father, who sent him $200. "I don't know if he felt sorry for me or what," Davis said.
His parents have both been teachers, as are his older and younger brothers. His wife, Lara , also taught but is now staying home with their 3-year-old daughter, Catherine.
Davis said he has promised his principal, if he happened to win, to come back when Congress is not in session as a substitute teacher.
"I know it's a long shot," he said. "The odds of me getting in there are slim."
But the campaign will allow him to raise some issues and give voters a third alternative, he said.
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