Rep. Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.) abruptly dropped out of his race for a third term yesterday, citing unspecified "allegations" that he said called into question his ability to represent his Virginia Beach district.
In a statement, Schrock, 63, did not address the nature of the allegations, but he said they "will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region." His chief of staff, Tom Gordy, refused any further comment last night.
The allegations will not allow "my campaign to focus on the real issues," said Rep. Edward L. Schrock, left. With him are former governor James Gilmore and Steve Case.
(Tom Allen -- The Washington Post)
Schrock's announcement came after a gay activist claimed on a Web site on Aug. 19 that Schrock is secretly gay.
Michael Rogers said his claims about Schrock were motivated by anger over what he said was the hypocrisy of the congressman's opposition to gay rights while leading a gay life. He said the purpose of his Web site is to make public the names of lawmakers and other politicians who engage in such hypocrisy.
"Why should my community protect him?" Rogers asked. "He's the enemy."
Rogers said on his Web site that Schrock had been recorded several years ago using a telephone service on which men place ads to arrange liaisons with other men. Rogers posted an audio link of an unidentified man placing an ad. Rogers said the man is Schrock, who is married and has a child.
The accusation by Rogers had circulated widely among Republicans in the state during the past 10 days and spurred rounds of talks among members of Congress, House leaders and local party leaders.
"We were unable to get any facts. It was all rumors and conjecture," said one Republican familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity. "No one wanted to believe the rumors. Everyone wanted to stand with Ed."
Last week, Gordy called Rogers's accusations "unsubstantiated rumors" and insisted that Schrock would stand for reelection as planned.
But party leaders in the district began planning a meeting in case they needed to review their nomination. The 2nd District Republican Party is scheduled to meet tonight to select a new nominee.
Mark L. McKinney, chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Committee, said he had not talked directly to Schrock. "It's a shame that he had to resign because of a Web site that is trying to push a point of view . . . but . . . I have to believe that this was the reason why he stepped down."
Schrock's announcement came on the first night of the Republican National Convention in New York.
Virginia's top Republicans publicly ignored the sexual allegations and offered kind words about Schrock's service in Congress. Schrock, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, was elected in 2000 to represent Virginia's 2nd District, a conservative part of the state that includes Virginia Beach, parts of Norfolk and Hampton and Virginia's Eastern Shore.
The area is home to many military bases and a large number of active-duty service people and veterans.