So how did Pete Snyder, a Republican running for Virginia lieutenant governor, manage to get Oliver North on his team?

The retired Marine and Iran-Contra figure was the surprise headliner at the gathering Snyder hosted during the GOP Advance in Virginia Beach over the weekend. North shook hands and gave away signed copies of his new book, “Heroes Proved,” creating a lot of buzz for one of the seven — yes, seven! — Republicans running for the office begin vacated by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who dropped out of the race for governor last week.

North and Snyder have known each other since 1994, when Snyder, fresh out of college, worked on North’s U.S. Senate bid.

“In 1994, he was one of the foot soldiers in what they called Ollie’s army — I didn’t call it that, but they did,” North said in a brief interview at Snyder’s event. “And he was one of the genuine leaders of that whole movement to get young people involved in the party.

“It didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted,” added North, who lost to incumbent Democrat Chuck Robb. “But he’s the kind of leader we need in the commonwealth of Virginia right now.”

Snyder, a technology entrepreneur and recent Fox News contributor, said he’d gone “right out of the College of William and Mary, right into Ollie’s army. He inspired me at the time — American hero, conservative icon.”

North’s appearance made a big splash with many of the hundreds of conservative activists attending the annual Republican gathering. Read our full story on the GOP Advance here.