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  •   Cooley, Packwood May Run Again

    By Thomas B. Edsall
    Sunday, March 8, 1998; Page A09

    Former representative Wes Cooley (R-Ore.), whose political career came to an abrupt halt two years ago after he was caught lying about his war record, seems to think he deserves another chance and announced that he will run again for his old seat in Congress.

    "Why am I running for office? Because I was a good congressman. I voted the way my district wanted me to," Cooley said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from his ranch in the central Oregon town of Alfalfa.

    Under pressure from his own party, Cooley dropped his 1996 reelection bid and was convicted a year later for falsely claiming in a voter information pamphlet that he served with the Army in the Korean War.

    The 65-year-old rancher and owner of a vitamin-packaging business was placed on two years' probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. By law, his felony conviction does not prevent him from running.

    "I did my time," he said. "If you run for an office, why would you put out the effort and get all the hits I'm going to get from you people if I didn't think I had a possibility of winning?"

    Some fellow Republicans were shocked by Cooley's plans. Members of Cooley's party had urged him to bow out in 1996 for fear the controversy would throw the seat to Democrats. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) was described by press aide Mary Healy as "shocked and incredulous."

    The seat is now held by Rep. Robert F. "Bob" Smith (R), who is retiring and has endorsed Greg Walden.

    No Democratic candidates have come forward. The district covers all of eastern Oregon and the southwestern corner of the state.

    Speaking of Oregonians, Bob Packwood, the disgraced former U.S. senator-turned lobbyist, said Friday he too is thinking running for public office again.

    "I don't dismiss the possibility or likelihood of doing that," the Associated Press quoted him as saying as he prepared to return to the state this weekend to speak at Oregon's major Republican gathering.

    The Oregon Republican resigned from the Senate in 1995 amid allegations he made unwanted sexual advances to 17 female employees and colleagues, solicited jobs from lobbyists for his former wife and altered his personal diaries to obstruct an ethics investigation.

    Packwood, 65, would not say what office he might be interested in. "But I'm not giving up the possibility of going back into elective politics."

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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