GOP Maverick Not out of Woods Yet with Colleagues

Article excerpt

RICHMOND - In 1996, Virginia Republicans took one of their own, state Sen. Jane H. Woods of Fairfax City, to the woodshed.

Mrs. Woods' fellow Republicans denied the centrist a coveted spot on the Senate Finance Committee after she wondered publicly whether she still had a place in the Republican Party.

Now, there are two open seats on the committee that carves up money for schools and roads, and Mrs. Woods, 51, will have a crack at winning a seat on the panel next month. But once again, she may run into fellow Republicans with long memories.

And Mrs. Woods didn't help her chances earlier this month, when she was among a group of Republican senators who backed the wrong horse for Senate Republican leader. Mrs. Woods supported Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. of Williamsburg, who lost a tight vote behind closed doors to Sen. Walter Stosch of Henrico County.

Mrs. Woods, a senator since 1992 and a delegate from 1988 to 1991, does not know what will happen when a steering committee of Republican senators votes on plum committee seats next month.

"I don't have any idea," she said, when asked her chances. "It could be totally a vendetta and anyone who supported Tommy isn't going to be on" the Finance Committee.

Outside the meeting room, Republican senators papered over their differences, naming Mr. Stosch the Republican leader and Mr. Norment the floor leader who will lead the debate. …