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Rep. Foley Quits In Page Scandal

The news emboldened Democrats that they could gain the 15 seats they need to regain the House majority they lost in 1994. The Florida district's Democratic nominee, Tim Mahoney, has been running a credible campaign, raising more than $700,000 and airing TV ads for nearly a month, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The committee said it is too late under Florida law to remove Foley's name as the GOP nominee on the Nov. 7 ballot, a circumstance that would greatly improve Mahoney's chances of being elected.

But Forti said lawyers hope they can replace Foley's name on the ballot. At a minimum, he said, party officials can designate an alternate candidate who would be credited with all votes cast for Foley on Nov. 7. "It's a very Republican seat," Forti said, adding that Republicans "can move forward" when they have a new candidate.

Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) said the  five messages he sent to a former congressional page were harmless.
Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) said the five messages he sent to a former congressional page were harmless. (Ray Lustig - Ray Lustig -- The Washington Post)

Florida GOP Chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan said in a statement that executives from each county in Foley's district "will meet to choose a replacement on the ballot." Possible candidates include state Rep. Joe Negron, she said. The decision, she said, is "very time-sensitive" because the replacement "would have the opportunity to get around the district and campaign in a very short amount of time."

Foley's resignation was startlingly sudden. He was a respected House member cruising toward a seventh term when ABC News reported Thursday that he had sent brief, chatty e-mails last year to a boy, then 16, who had been a House page. In them, Foley asked the boy's age and what he wanted for his birthday. He requested a picture of the boy and told him that he had just finished a long bike ride and was going to the gym. ABC reported that the boy forwarded the photo-request e-mail to an unidentified congressional staffer and wrote that the message was "sick sick sick sick sick."

Efforts by The Washington Post to reach the boy were unsuccessful. But he told the St. Petersburg Times last November: "I thought it was very inappropriate. After the one about the picture, I decided to stop e-mailing him back." The Times, which did not disclose the teenager's name, did not publish his comments until yesterday.

The e-mails were posted Friday on the Web site of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington after ABC News reported their existence. The liberal-leaning watchdog group asked the House ethics committee to investigate the exchange Foley had with the boy.

Foley, who is single, moved to Florida as a child and opened a restaurant in Lake Worth at age 20. He also sold real estate and moved quickly into politics. He was elected to Florida's House in 1990, to the state Senate in 1992 and to the U.S. House in 1994.

In Congress, Foley pushed bills to deport imprisoned illegal immigrants and to amend the Constitution so that children born in the United States are not automatically citizens. He also sought to increase the number of immigrants admitted as farmworkers. He obtained a Government Accountability Office report into irregularities at cemeteries and crematoriums, and he called for tougher regulation of funeral workers.

Foley chaired the House caucus on missing and exploited children and was credited with writing the sexual-predator provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which Bush signed in July. A photo on the White House Web site shows Foley among those attending the signing ceremony.

In 2003, Foley faced questions about his sexual orientation as he prepared to run for Sen. Bob Graham's post. At a news conference in May of that year, he said he would not comment on rumors that he was gay. He later decided not to seek the Senate seat to care for his parents.

Congressional pages are teenagers who live in a Capitol Hill dorm and attend a special school while serving in the House and Senate. The program generally is trouble-free, but in July 1983 the House censured Reps. Daniel B. Crane (R-Ill.) and Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.) for sexual misconduct with House pages.

Research editor Lucy Shackelford and political researcher Zachary A. Goldfarb contributed to this report.

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