Rep. Herbert E. Harris II said yesterday he will not seek a recount of his 1,094-vote loss to Republican Stanford E. Parris for the 8th Congressional District of Virginia, but vowed to stay active in politics.
Harris, in a "swan song" press conference after six years on Capitol Hill, refused to blame his defeat on a single issue or person. "When you lose by one-half of a percent, everything was a factor," Harris said.
Harris also pointed out that he had run 26,776 votes ahead of President Carter, who got only 33 percent in the Northern Virginia district. "This obviously was not a good year, in Virginia or the nation, for Democratic candidates," he said. "It's difficult in an area that tends to renew itself [with a large turnover of residents] to run when the top of the ticket isn't strong."
The three-term representative said one challenge facing Virginia Democrats is to catch up with the Republican organization, which is "more equipped to help its candidates than the Democrats, through computer services" and other modern electoral techniques.
Among options Harris is considering, he said, are joining a law firm, starting his own law firm, lobbying or working for a trade association. He is "looking for something in the public policy area. I'm not attracted to going back to drafting wills or pursuing litigation," he said.
He also refused to rule out running again for Congress, or even for the Senate or for governor. But his first challenge, he said, is to pay off a campaign debt of about $15,000.
Among the Harris-sponsored bills pending in the lame-duck session are measures that would include money for resurfacing Woodrow Wilson Bridge in the Surface Transportation Act; fund a study of possible Metro subway extensions, including a line to Lorton; reform consulting and contracting practices and year-end spending by federal agencies, and make handicapped persons eligible for Keough retirement plans.
The final, certified election results, released yesterday, gave Parris 95,624 votes to 94,530 for Harris. The winner, who held the seat in 1973 and 1974, when he was beaten by Harris, led Harris in every jurisdiction of the district except Alexandria, where Harris held the edge by a comfortable 21,405 to 15,805. Parris carried Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.