Radio Host Sics Callers on Connolly Over Immigration

"I understand I'm going to make life miserable" for Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, said talk radio host Chris Core (right). (Dayna Smith - Dayna Smith/ftwp)
By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 24, 2007

Tensions between Fairfax and Prince William counties over illegal immigration spilled over to local talk radio yesterday when Fairfax Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly's office was peppered by calls from listeners of WMAL (630 AM) midmorning host Chris Core.

Core posted Connolly's phone number and e-mail address on his show's Web site after interviewing Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-Occoquan). Stewart, whose board has taken aggressive steps in an attempt to roll back illegal immigration, including authorizing police officers to check the immigration status of crime suspects, has been critical of Fairfax for not taking a similar hard line.

Connolly and Stewart have traded shots over the past week. Stewart said Fairfax risks becoming a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants. Connolly has accused Stewart of political posturing.

Connolly spoke to WMAL this week on the issue, saying it was impractical for localities to assume responsibility for enforcing immigration law. He has also said he wants the county to focus on such issues as residential crowding that target "outcomes and behavior" rather than identity.

Connolly declined to join Stewart on yesterday morning's show, citing schedule conflicts. Core responded by posting a "Chris Core Call to Action!!!" on his Web site, with the office number and e-mail address.

"I understand I'm going to make life miserable for someone in his office," Core said.

Core's posting was reminiscent of the morning in August 2005 when Herndon officials shut down Town Hall phone lines. They were inundated after Mark Williams, a substitute host on WMAL broadcasting from a station in Sacramento, urged listeners to call and voice opposition to a proposed job site for immigrant day laborers. Town officials described many of the messages as hate calls.

Connolly said that Core produced "a little bit of a surge" on the office's three phone lines but that it quickly receded. He noted that a lot of the calls were from outside Fairfax County.

Although they have not spoken since the tit-for-tat began, Stewart and Connolly say there's nothing personal about the disagreement.

"We get along fairly well," Stewart told Core.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company