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GOP Courts Ex-Redskin for Va. Senate Seat

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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 15, 2006

Former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell R. Green is being urged to run for the state Senate from Loudoun County next year by leading Northern Virginia Republicans who hope he can use his fame on the football field to oust newly elected Democrat Mark R. Herring.

Green, one of the most well-known Redskins from the team's recent golden era, lives in Loudoun and has been running a nonprofit foundation since he left the team three years ago.

As a rookie in 1983, he captured the nation's attention with a stunning come-from-behind tackle of Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett during a Monday Night Football game. Now, some Republicans hope he can help their party recover from a string of bruising losses to Democrats in the past several elections.

"That name is on many lips," said former senator William C. Mims (R), whose Loudoun seat Herring won after Mims left to work in the attorney general's office. "[Green] is a longtime Loudoun resident who has been active in the community. He is highly respected and has an outlook that's consistent with Republican principles."

Green was not home yesterday and could not be located for comment. A woman who answered the phone at his Ashburn home said he was out of town until Monday.

Mims and several other Republicans from Northern Virginia said there have been discussions with Green about the Loudoun seat, which will be up for election in 2007.

Green was seen making the rounds of Capitol Square in Richmond several weeks ago.

"I wanted everyone to meet him," said U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), who was in Richmond on March 27 with his congressional colleagues for a regularly scheduled meeting with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).

After the meeting, Green tossed a football back and forth with U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in front of Kaine's executive mansion.

Davis declined to discuss whether Green is being courted, saying only that his candidacy would "be a nice matchup. Darrell would be great if he wanted to run for anything except the 11th Congressional District," which is the seat Davis holds.

Charles Mann, a former Redskins defensive end and a friend of Green's, said he had not discussed the candidacy with him. But he said Green would be a "natural" in whatever office he chose to run for.

"He's a born leader. You have to have some kind of leadership mantle to do that," Mann said. He noted that Green would have nearly 100 percent name identification in the Loudoun district if he ran. "That and a cup of coffee would get you in the running. He would be conservative, absolutely, for whatever that's worth."

Green's pastor at Metro Morningstar in Sterling, Brett Fuller, called Green a "recognized, favored icon" and said he gets "many contacts about running for office -- district, or Virginia, nationally or locally. I have no ideas what his intentions are. Absolutely none."

A possible Green candidacy, which was first reported as a rumor on an Internet blog called Too Conservative, is part of a larger effort by the Republican Party to regain seats in Northern Virginia, where they lost several recent elections. Herring's win in a special election this year was especially painful, party officials said.

Afterward, the Republican Party of Virginia convened a Northern Virginia Strike Force to map a new strategy. The group has met three times and will issue an internal report to the party this summer.

"Darrell Green would make an excellent candidate, both in his own right and as part of the overall strategy here in Northern Virginia," said Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax), who represents the neighboring district. "We are not just going to play defense."

Herring said he is not intimidated by the chance that Green might run against him.

"He's a very popular football player and a star on the football field," Herring said. "I'm confident that my positions are consistent with those of the majority of the citizens in the district. I believe I'll be reelected next year."

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