Wolf Beholden to Big Oil, Democrat Feder Says

By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Democrat Judy Feder of McLean launched her campaign against U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) yesterday by painting him as an ally of oil interests who she said bears blame for the nation's dependence on oil, high gasoline prices and war in the Middle East.

Feder, dean of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and a former health policy specialist in the Clinton administration, began a week-long tour of Virginia's 10th Congressional District with a kickoff at her home and a rally in front of an Exxon gas station in Manassas. The sprawling district stretches from Fairfax County to Winchester and includes all or parts of seven counties and three cities.

With cars streaming by on Centreville Road, Feder delivered a "Declaration of Energy Independence," promising more research dollars for alternative energy sources, incentives to encourage drivers to buy energy-efficient vehicles and fewer tax breaks for oil companies.

And she accused Wolf of doing the oil industry's bidding, noting that he has accepted more than $70,000 in campaign contributions from energy interests and that he voted against a measure that would have penalized oil companies for price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"We're like alcoholics," Feder, 59, said. "We're drinking ourselves to death on gasoline."

Wolf campaign spokesman Woody Patrick said the Republican is hardly a friend of big oil. The campaign money has been received over Wolf's 26 years in Congress, he said, and includes contributions from the natural gas and propane industries. And Wolf supported legislation last year to investigate gouging by oil companies and to research alternative energy sources, he said.

A more pressing issue for 10th District voters, Patrick said, is federal transportation spending, which Wolf has worked to funnel to Northern Virginia and plans to focus on during the campaign.

Wolf, 67, is seeking his 14th term. Although the 10th District has long been viewed as safely Republican, voters there surprised Wolf and others last year by giving a majority to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).

Political observers are unsure of whether that is the result of a change of voter demographics or President Bush's unpopularity, but they expect a closer race than usual this year.

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