The narrowest victory in Virginia in the November elections, just over 1,000 votes at last count, was won by Democratic state Sen. Frederick Boucher, 36, an Abingdon lawyer. He defeated nine-term incumbent Rep. William C. Wampler in the mountainous 9th Congressional District in the southwestern corner of the state.
Boucher, articulate but reserved, started his campaign early, accusing Wampler, the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee, of being ineffective. Later, he attacked Wampler for his votes on the Gramm-Latta budget which cut secondary Social Security programs.
Wampler, widely known in the district for constituent services and his friendly, outgoing style, was hurt badly by the economy in the region, particularly in the coal fields. There, where unemployment is close to 20 percent, Boucher, backed by the United Mine Workers, pulled big majorities, enough to offset pockets of Republican strength.
A bachelor and a one-time Wall Street lawyer with a law degree from the University of Virginia, Boucher doesn't look like a congressman from one of state's roughest political battlegrounds. But he raised about $220,000 and offered specific solutions for Virginia's depressed coal industry, such as a federally funded dredging project to deepen the Hampton Roads harbor for larger coal-carrying ships.
In the state senate, Boucher was known for shepherding bills important to women's groups, including reform of the state's sexual assault laws and earmarking funds for shelters for battered spouses. He was more conservative on economic issues.
"I don't believe you can return to the free-spending days where there was no limit," Boucher told one audience. But President Reagan's approach was not the answer, he added, calling the three-year tax cut "the most unfair change in the Internal Revenue Code since the code was adopted at the start of the century."