Davis's Opponent Runs Against Bush

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Democratic congressional candidate Shawn O'Donnell of Fredericksburg is borrowing a page from the party's national playbook in his quest to unseat Rep. Jo Ann Davis: Link the Republican incumbent to President Bush as much as possible.

"I believe she's been a rubber stamp of George Bush," O'Donnell, 51, said. "Literally every failure this administration has had, she's got a degree of guilt that should be associated with those politics."

Davis, 56, was first elected in 2000 to represent Virginia's 1st Congressional District and has raised five times as much money as O'Donnell. She dismissed the Democrat's criticism.

"I just run on my own record," Davis said. "I don't look at what my opponent's doing, and I don't say anything about what my opponent's doing."

The candidates offer stark differences to voters in a district that includes parts of Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Fauquier counties.

On Iraq, O'Donnell, who has a son serving in the Kentucky Air National Guard, said he wants more diplomacy and the "redeploying of our troops out of the civil war we're in." Davis said she has concerns about such proposals to reduce troop levels in Iraq. "When we're in the middle of war, we shouldn't be cutting," she said.

On taxes, O'Donnell said he supports a more equitable policy than Davis. He said the tax code should be more progressive, with the wealthiest taxpayers paying a greater percentage of their income to the government. Davis said that the "economy is going well because of tax cuts" she has supported. She cited low unemployment and high job growth.

Both candidates want to improve health-care coverage for military veterans, and both want to unclog transportation bottlenecks, especially along Interstate 95.

O'Donnell also opposes international trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Congress approved NAFTA in 1993 and CAFTA 12 years later; most House Democrats voted against both measures.

O'Donnell said the two trade deals "sell off our national interests and threaten our national security." Davis did not vote in July 2005 when the Republican-led House passed the Central American deal by a two-vote margin, a roll call that was heavily lobbied by business and labor interests.

O'Donnell described himself as a businessman who has worked in manufacturing, including product development for automotive companies. He also has experience with a software company in Fredericksburg.

"We have such trouble on the federal level for policies that are not fair to working Americans and to future generations," the Democrat said. "We need to have people who are not professional politicians."

Before she was an elected official, Davis began her career as an executive secretary in a real estate and property management office. She then became an agent and opened her own firm. She was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1997 and was voted into Congress three years later, cruising past her Democratic opponent. She had no Democratic opposition in 2002 or 2004.

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