NORTHERN VIRGINIA’S congressional delegation, which includes three of the state’s 11 seats in the House, has been generally effective, if not quite as successful as suburban Maryland’s at insinuating itself into leadership positions. The fact that Metro’s Silver Line extension to Dulles airport, one of the nation’s biggest infrastructure projects, is nearing the halfway point to completion is testament to the delegation’s tenacity.
It will be all the more important that Northern Virginia retain good representation as Congress flirts with the indiscriminate budget cuts known as sequestration. The impact of those to the region, with its dependence on federal spending, would be devastating. It’s critical that seasoned pros, not amateurs, have their hands on the tiller.
That’s one reason we support the three incumbents running for reelection this fall — Rep. Frank R. Wolf in the 10th District, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly in the 11th and Rep. James P. Moran in the 8th. Although the three have displayed varying strengths, and each has shortcomings, they are preferable to the well-intentioned amateurs running against them.
The clearest case is that of Mr. Wolf, a Republican who has represented his district for three decades. In a party that has veered sharply to the right, Mr. Wolf has retained a rare and admirable independent streak. He’s one of a handful of House Republicans who refused to sign Grover Norquist’s pledge never to raise taxes; courageously, he even spoke out against Mr. Norquist’s purity tests from the floor of the House. And Mr. Wolf, having pushed for the creation of a bipartisan commission on the deficit, also broke ranks with the GOP to support legislation that would have enacted the commission’s main recommendation — a balanced package of deep spending cuts and revenue increases. He deserves reelection against a slate of inexperienced opponents.
Mr. Connolly, a Democrat elected in 2008, is a relative newcomer to Congress, but no one questions his command of state, local and federal issues with a bearing on his district — a product of his many years as a member and then chairman of Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors. Knowledgeable and energetic, he has pushed successfully for legislation to ease telework for federal employees. He’s also relatively unafraid to buck his party — witness his sensible support last year for free-trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Mr. Connolly’s Republican opponent, Chris Perkins, is a retired colonel who spent years of his Army career working with Congress. Mr. Perkins is substantive but his background is narrow; he’s taken little interest until now in matters unrelated to the military. And while he insists that his instincts and thinking are moderate and independent-minded, many of the positions that he has staked out in public, judging from his Web site, are doctrinaire.
Mr. Moran, a Democrat who has long represented the heavily Democratic 8th District, has embarrassed himself, and his constituents, with ill-considered comments in the past. But he is conscientious and constituent-oriented, and his opposition in this election, as in past contests, is weak.