State Sen. Hunter B. Andrews of Hampton yesterday rejoined the race for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate in Virginia with an unusual endorsement from House of Delegates Speaker John Warren Cooke.

Andrews, 56, is an influential member of the Senate with a moderate-liberal voting record, but a history of close association with conservative members of the Assembly establishment.

He announced last year as one of seven Democrats seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican William L. Scott, but withdrew from the race shortly after the General Assembly session began last month. He said then he did not have time to campaign and carry out his senate duties.

His re-entry took on the appearance of a draft by eastern Virginia political figures. Former U.S. representative Thomas N. Downing of Newport News introduced Andrews at a news conference and said he will serve as his campaign chairman.

Reporters were handed a list of two dozen supporters of Andrews that included Downing, Cooke and other Tidewater region party officials and past and present officeholders who represent a wide political range with in the Virginia Democratic Party.

Cooke is a conservative in both politics and style who seldom plays a public role in party affairs.

Andrews told reporters that his withdrawal and re-entry "may have hurt my candidacy," but he said it had attracted pledges of financing and other campaign support that he did not have before.

The other six Democratic candidates are former attorney general Andrew P. Miller, state Sen. Clive L. DuVa II of Fairfax supervisors chairman Frederick A. Babson, former Fairfax supervisor Rufus Phillips, and Flora Crater, of Falls Church, an independent candidate for lieutenant governor in 1973.

The Democratic nominee will be chosen at a state convention in Williamsburg on June 10. Delegates to the convention will be selected at city and county mass meetings on April 15.

Republicans will choose their nominee at a convention in Richmond on JUne 3. There are four GOP candidates: former governor Linwood Holton, former national Republican co-chairman Richard D. Obenshain, former Navy secretary John Warner and state Sen. Nathan H. Miller of Rockingham County.