Former Virginia House speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr.’s bid for a political comeback failed Saturday when he was rebuffed in his challenge to the sitting chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Committee.

Party members reelected Wendell Walker to the post Saturday, the Roanoke Times reported on its Web site.

In 2000, Wilkins delivered the Virginia House of Delegates to the GOP and became its first Republican speaker. But he was forced to resign two years later amid revelations that he paid $100,000 to a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment.

At 77, Wilkins was trying to stage a return to politics from his home in rural Amherst County. He had hoped to help run the state party again and to alter a trend that has led to GOP losses in the most recent contests for the five statewide offices.

Walker told the Roanoke newspaper that the vote was an endorsement of a more inclusive vision for his party.