Races of the Week

Virginia’s 11th U.S. House District
Fimian vs. Connolly

As he carries the Republican banner against Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly for the second time in the Northern Virginia 11th District, Keith Fimian has an intriguing, rather endearing credential: The small businessman has actually personally felt the pain of the nationwide economic agony.

“It’s tough out there for business, all right,” says the 53-year-old Fimian, chairman of U. S. Inspect, a home inspection and corporate relocation company. “Our high-water point was 400 employees and we’ve had to let 55 of them in the last two years. We never had to lay off anyone before and more than half of that 55 have still not found work.”

As for the current economic climate after Barack Obama and the Democratic-run Congress have taken some action, Fimian observes: “Uncertainty exists, investment doesn’t.”

And that is why, fresh from winning a heated Republican primary with 56% of the vote, nominee Fimian, takes on the fall campaign battle with the same fervor he demonstrated as a fullback at William and Mary College and “our team beat the University of Virginia, the U.S. Naval Academy and Virginia Tech—all the big ones!”

Fimian charges that Connolly (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 0%) “has no experience whatsoever in creating jobs and it shows in the votes he casts. When you vote for cap and trade, Obama’s healthcare scheme, and the stimulus package and then say you favor ‘card check,’ you are doing things that cost jobs, not create them.”

But what Keith Fimian cares most about is undoing the policies that he says “cannot get us out of this mess” and putting on the table a fresh agenda of tax cuts, deregulation, and opportunity.

As he hits the coffeeklatches, Kiwanis lunches, and Lions breakfasts, Fimian makes a strong case for rejecting “the people who broke what is now broken” and rallying “ordinary citizens to get mad and take charge.” And what better way to do that than to elect Keith Fimian, who calls himself “an ordinary citizen who won’t sit on the couch and let our country go down.” 

Iowa’s 3rd U.S. House District
Zaun vs. Boswell

Brad Zaun, Republican nominee for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd District, is quick to tell a questioner that after a year at the Hawkeye State’s Grandview College and Ellsworth Community College, he quit and never finished college.

“I was ready to go out, own my own business, and make money,” he says unabashedly. Sure enough, his dream came true when he bought a hardware store at age 24, turned it into a thriving business, and sold it at a major profit 18 years later.

Owning and running a hardware store was, in Zaun’s words, “a blast—the funnest job you could have. You get to know all kinds of people and their needs through all four seasons, and make money doing it.”

Zaun won election to the city council in his hometown of Urbandale and served as mayor for seven years. He ran the city in much the same way as his hardware store—cutting red tape and making it a pleasant place for people to come and stay a while.

“And we cut taxes to the point that Urbandale’s were the lowest of any city in metro Des Moines,” Zaun recalls proudly. “And our city grew. People came in droves to live here and our population is now up to 38,000. And both Money Magazine and CNN put Urbandale on their lists of 50 best cities in America in which to live.  Not bad!”
Zaun was elected to the state senate and earlier this year defeated seven opponents to become the GOP nominee against Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell.

Rather than talk about seven-termer Boswell’s liberal record (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 25.40%), Zaum prefers to talk about his own record in the public and private sectors and how his brand of “hardware-store conservatism” can put America back on its financial feet.

But the 76-year-old Boswell’s liberalism inevitably has to come up, as Zaun explains just how we got in the “mess” he wants to fix. As he puts it, “When you see he votes for Obamacare and you realize Des Moines is the second largest insurance city in America, you know he’s out of touch. When you see he voted for cap and trade and understand how it will devastate agriculture here in Iowa, you know it’s time for change.”

Along with his plainspokenness business background and understanding of “what it means to sign the front of a paycheck,” Brad Zaun also brings to the political table a sense of what the future means. In his words, “I look at my five children and say the people we have running things in Washington can’t care about their future—they are spending so recklessly. That’s why I’m running.” 

Ohio’s 18th U.S. House District
Gibbs vs. Space

“The good Robert Gibbs” is how supporters often refer to the conservative state senator who is the Republican nominee for Congress in Ohio’s18th District. They call him that to distinguish Gibbs from the press secretary to President Obama so familiar to C-SPAN viewers of his daily briefings.

“And I’ve had the name a few years more than that other fellow,” says the 53-year-old Republican Gibbs with a laugh, “and my politics are about as far apart from him and the President he works for as you can get.”

As a two-term state senator from Holmes County, Bob Gibbs has been in the forefront of fighting the big-spending, high-tax agenda of liberal Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. In ’05, he co-drafted a measure for the largest-ever tax cut in state history. Gibbs also sponsored a bill providing for permits to carry concealed weapons.

After winning the Republican primary, Gibbs is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Zack Space (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 17%), “Nancy Pelosi’s lapdog,” as the GOP hopeful calls him.

“He followed her down the line on the healthcare vote,” says Gibbs, “and they passed something that never addresses the escalating costs of medical care.” Gibbs believes in healthcare reform “when you give people more control over their health insurance provider with Health Savings Accounts, open state lines up for acquiring health insurance and do so with as little paperwork as possible. That’s the reform I would work to enact after we repeal the measure my opponent voted for.”

Space’s support of cap and trade climate-control legislation has come under fire. In a district that is home to two-thirds of the coal mines in Ohio and where oil and gas is a major industry, Gibbs charges that Space’s vote for a measure “that would be devastating to both of our major industries here is unconscionable.”

In ’06, scandal forced a Republican congressman to step down and his replacement candidate had to start a campaign late and from scratch. Space, son of Democratic County Chairman Socrates Space, won handily. In ’08, he rode Barack Obama’s long coattails in the 16-county district to be re-elected by a 3-to-2 margin.

Now it is 2010 and the political dynamics have changed dramatically. If conservatives make a priority of Ohio’s 18th District, they can make true change by sending the right Robert Gibbs to Washington.