Note: During the last congressional term, I moved from the 11th Congressional District currently served by Representative Tom Davis (R) to the 10th Congressional District currently served by Representative Frank Wolf (R).
In the race for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District—which encompasses Clarke County, Frederick County, Loudoun County, Warren County, Manassas, Winchester, and parts of Frederick, Fairfax, and Prince William counties—long-term incumbent Representative(R) is up against challengers Judy Feder (D) and Neeraj Nigam (I). Wolf has held his seat in the House of Representatives since his election in 1980 and is seeking his fifteenth term. Representatives serve two-year terms.
Nigam’s long-shot independent campaign is interesting. He is a legal immigrant from India who, like many legal immigrants, takes a hard line against those who have bypassed our laws and entered the country illegally. Thus, Nigam strongly opposes any form of amnesty for illegal immigrants. He supports exempting the first $25,000 of annual income from income taxes, which would ease the tax burden on everybody and eliminate it entirely for those living in poverty. He supports common-sense improvements to our local traffic infrastructure. He supports establishing English as our national language. But, for all these positives, his inexperience shows through. Like many political outsiders running third-party or independent campaigns, I have a hard time imagining an effective Representative Nigam accomplishing any of these goals if elected.
Feder, on the other hand, presents a platform that is depressingly short on detail. On her web site, she says she wants to ‘get things done’ on a whopping three listed issues: health care, Iraq, and transportation. Her health care plan largely parrots the one presented by Senator Barack Obama’s (D-IL) presidential campaign—access for all, regulated costs, and a choice between various plans. Unfortunately, this plan comes without detail and with an unknown (but likely immense) price tag that we are sure to pay through higher taxes. Her Iraq plan, again, comes with little detail beyond a desire to bring the troops home immediately—apparently without regard for emerging victorious or leaving a stable Iraq in the withdrawal’s wake. On transportation she provides even less detail than that, saying we need to fix Northern Virginia’s transportation . . . and basically nothing else.
So how, specifically, would Feder fix transportation? What are her plans for our disintegrating system of public education? Will she defend my right to keep and bear arms? Will she support my individual property rights? What does she think about government bailouts for failing financial firms? How does she want to fix social security? Will she send illegal immigrants home or will she issue them driver’s licenses and set up day-labor centers for them? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m willing to bet she’s wrong on more of these issues than she’s right.
Representative Wolf is a known-value with a long record in Congress—a record that is, on the whole, quite positive for the 10th District. While the state government in Richmond twiddled its collective thumbs on transportation, Wolf did as much as he could to keep traffic flowing. He has been a driving force for getting mass transit to Dulles Airport (against incredibly mindless opposition and unbelievable WMATA mismanagement). He has pushed for widening Interstate 66 inside the beltway. He has tried to ratchet-back ineffective and counterproductive HOV restrictions. He has fought toll increases on the Dulles Toll Road and Greenway. These efforts, while admirable, have not solved the problem—but I am sure the problem would be much worse without them.
Wolf has a history of being tough on crime, of supporting the individual right to keep and bear arms, and supporting worldwide human rights (particularly in China, Darfur, and other human rights hot-spots). Wolf has also worked hard to protect our local cultural heritage and historical sites. All-in-all, Wolf has consistently worked for the 10th District and I have no reason to doubt that he will continue to do so.
My biggest trepidation about Wolf is that he, like many of his Republican Party brethren, supported the ill-advised socialist Wall St. bailout package. This package will do much more harm than good for our economy in the long term, and it represents a wholesale abandonment of one of the core ideals of the Republican Party. I endorse Representative Frank Wolf for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, but my endorsement is given reluctantly and is tinged with disappointment. In the coming term, Wolf must oppose any further moves toward socialist interventionism by our government and must defend the free market economy.
Feder’s empty campaign is apparently based on blatant partisanship and a belief that it’s time for new blood in Congress—this is evident in her failure to even mention many of the issues that are of central importance to the people of the 10th District. Feder does not provide a viable alternative to the strong advocate we have had in Representative Wolf. Frankly, it doesn’t even look like she’s trying.
Nigam could be an intriguing alternative, and I applaud him for choosing to enter public service in his adoptive country—a country he clearly loves and respects. It is tempting to vote for him, but he has no legislative history that I’m aware of in state or local government upon which to judge his record. I am reluctant to elevate an unknown to represent us in Congress until he has some lower legislative experience, even though his firm opposition to the socialist bailout package nearly won him my vote.