At first glance, Virginia’s 10th District would seem safe turf for Republicans. The district (which includes Clarke, Frederick, Loudon and Warren counties and portions of Fairfax, Prince William and Fauquier counties) has been represented in Congress for 26 years by Republican Rep. Frank Wolf. After unseating a Democratic incumbent in 1980, Wolf has never failed to be re-elected with more than 60% of the vote.
At 67, Wolf sports a conservative record (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 81%), is a nationally recognized leader on human rights abuses (most recently dealing with the outrageous events in Darfur), and delivers, as even the Washington Post conceded, “meticulous constituent service.”
But times and circumstances are changing in Northern Virginia. Last fall, Democrat Tim Kaine won the governorship of the state and carried the 10th, 52% to 48%. Earlier this year, when Republican State Sen. (and onetime Wolf top aide) Bill Mims was appointed deputy state attorney general, Democrats won his seat in the subsequent special election with 60% of the vote.
So now, Republicans who previously took Wolf’s re-election for granted are starting to look warily at his Democratic opponent, Judy Feder, dean of Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. While the 59-year-old Feder is far better known at liberal think tanks and on the Georgetown dinner party circuit than she is in the district that spreads from the Washington, D.C., border to the West Virginia line, friends of Wolf who dismiss her do so at their own peril: Since January, she has raised $600,000, or more than any past Wolf opponent has at this point in the campaign.
“About 80% of her money comes from outside Virginia,” reported the Washington Post, “and 30% of her contributions come through Act Blue, a national organization that directs money to Democratic candidates.”
As to why Feder has become a pin-up for what the Post describes as a donor list of “former Clinton officials, think-tank executives, and academics,” the answer is obvious: The Democratic nominee against Wolf was a key intellectual architect of the Clinton health care plan of 1993—the statist “HillaryCare” best remembered for the complex charts Republicans used to show how it would have enhanced government control of health care had they not stopped it in its tracks.
Back in 1976, in the first of his two unsuccessful runs for Congress before he finally won, Frank Wolf captured the hearts of conservatives by taking a courageous stand and supporting Ronald Reagan for President over incumbent Gerald Ford. In effect, the race in the 10th District could be characterized as Reagan vs. Clinton by proxy—and one in which conservatives nationwide know what they must do.
Friends of Frank Wolf, 14506 Lee Rd., Chantilly, Va. 20151; (703) 817-9691