Virginia Sen. John H. Chichester (R-Fredericksburg), considered likely to replace outgoing Republican state chairman George N. McMath, said yesterday that he is not interested in seeking election this weekend to the party post.

Chichester, 41, speaking at a news conference in Richmond, said he did not plan to run for the GOP position on either an interim or permanent basis but was flattered to be told he was being actively considered.

The Rebublican State Central Committee meets Saturday to choose an interim successor to McMath, who announced last week that health and business pressures make it necessary for him to resign. A party chairman will be selected in Roanoke at the end of June when the GOP holds its state convention.

Chichester, according to a Republican source, was approached about taking the job by party leaders and had initially been willing. He is said to have decided over the weekend, however, that the party chairmanship would leave little time for his insurance business and Senate duties.

Chichester's withdrawal left the party chairmanship selection "wide open," according to the source, although former Rep. John Marsh and former 7th District party chairman Alfred Cramer, a Culpeper physician, are thought to be front-runners.

Cramer has said he would campaign actively for the post if Marsh, a close friend, decides he does not want it.