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Reagan Navy Secretary Will Run for U.S. Senate

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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 8, 2006

RICHMOND, Feb. 7 -- James Webb, who served as President Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary, said Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination to run against U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) this year, hoping to challenge the one-term incumbent on foreign policy and the conduct of the war in Iraq.

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"I don't wake up in the morning wanting to be a U.S. senator," Webb said in an interview. "I wake up every morning very concerned about the country. We need to put some focus back in our foreign policy, a different focus."

Webb, who has been flirting with a Senate bid for months, declined to elaborate about his decision or his campaign plans. But he said he will file papers this week to officially become a candidate. He said he will formally announce his plans as early as next week.

"Yes, we're going to file papers later this week," he said. In addition to a focus on foreign policy, he said his campaign would "look very hard at all the notions of fairness in our society."

Allen's chief of staff, Dick Wadhams, said of Webb's announcement: "Senator Allen has always expected a competitive race. We will run on competitiveness, national security and values."

Before he can face Allen, though, Webb needs to get past former lobbyist Harris Miller, who announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination last month. Miller quit his job as head of the Information Technology Association of America to run.

"I can make a difference by focusing on the future instead of getting caught up in cheap partisan politics," Miller said last month.

Miller's spokesman, Brian Cook, said Tuesday that Webb's candidacy "doesn't affect our campaign. We're going to keep going around Virginia explaining how Washington is broken and making the case for why Harris Miller is the best person to fix it."

A former Marine, Webb served in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. On his personal Web site, he describes having been raised in a family with "a strong citizen-soldier military tradition."

He is also a novelist and filmmaker, having written "Rules of Engagement," a 2000 film that opens with a confrontation involving U.S. Marines in Yemen.

But winning the Democratic nomination in Virginia this year will require Webb to explain his Republican roots.

He had served as an assistant secretary of defense under Reagan and was appointed secretary of the Navy in 1987. A year later, Webb resigned the post abruptly amid clashes with Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci.


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