Post picks for D.C., Md., Va. congressional races
ALMOST SINCE it was created following the 1990 census, the 11th Congressional District in Northern Virginia, comprising eastern Prince William County and most of Fairfax County, has been represented by savvy, detail-oriented centrists of both parties. That was true of Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican who held the seat from 1995 to 2008, and it's true of Democrat Gerald Connolly, who was elected two years ago.
It's not true of Keith S. Fimian, the politically extreme, scantily informed Republican challenging Mr. Connolly.
Unlike Mr. Davis and Mr. Connolly, who cut their teeth as nuts-and-bolts problem-solvers in the unglamorous arena of local government, Mr. Fimian is an ideologue with sparse experience of local issues who has embraced much of the Tea Party's dogma. Mr. Fimian would slash or eliminate most of the revenue streams that sustain government and the federal workforce while somehow leaving spending on the military and big-ticket social programs mostly untouched.
His magical budgetary math would explode the nation's already massive deficits and debt, a fact that the affable Mr. Fimian does not acknowledge. Instead, he offers the wan assurance that as a small businessman -- he runs a home inspection company -- he knows how to create jobs and set the economy on its feet. If elected, Mr. Fimian would join the querulous ranks of representatives in Congress who offer plenty of views on the nation's challenges but no workable solutions.
By contrast, Mr. Connolly has distinguished himself in his first term in office by being elected president of the House Democrats' freshman class. His command of local issues in Northern Virginia is impressive, as is his forward-looking advocacy for mass transit options to ease traffic. And Mr. Connolly has established himself as a fiscal moderate, for instance by opposing higher taxes on the wealthy to finance health-care reform. He deserves reelection.
In Virginia's other House races, we favor the incumbents, Republican Frank Wolf in the 10th District (including parts of Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun counties and points west) and Democrat James Moran in the 8th District (including Arlington County and part of Fairfax County as well as the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church). Neither has lately covered himself in glory. Mr. Wolf has pushed a federal commission to eliminate the deficit but without committing himself to the tax increases that are half the solution, along with limitations on entitlement program growth. He also resorted to uncharacteristic fear-mongering regarding the fate of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Moran still struggles from the self-inflicted wounds of past gaffes and offensive comments. But both are conscientious and hardworking on transportation and other local matters, and both face lackluster opponents.
In Maryland's House races, the three local incumbents, Democrats Chris Van Hollen (District 8, including much of Montgomery County and part of Prince George's), Donna Edwards (District 4, including parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties) and Steny H. Hoyer (District 5, including Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert counties and parts of Prince George's and Anne Arundel) are solid, smart lawmakers who face only nominal opposition. Mr. Hoyer, the House Majority leader, is frequently a voice of reason within his party as well as a leader on issues of importance to the region. Like Mr. Hoyer, Mr. Van Hollen, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a Capitol Hill heavyweight who helps the Maryland delegation punch above its legislative weight. Ms. Edwards is an impressive freshman despite occasionally holding rigid views that put her on the far left of her own party.
In the race for U.S. Senate in Maryland, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a four-term incumbent, is a tough-minded Democrat who has blazed trails on women's issues and lately played a useful role in highlighting Metro's safety shortcomings. She is and would remain a more effective legislator than her Republican challenger, Eric Wargotz, a lawmaker in Queen Anne's County. Mr. Wargotz's views on climate change (he denies it's caused by human activity), President Obama's place of birth (he has doubted the veracity of the Hawaii records) and the budget (he advocates huge tax cuts unmatched by spending reductions) undercut his credibility.
In the District, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Democratic incumbent, is a savvy advocate for D.C. interests despite not having a vote. She should have no problem defeating a Republican opponent whose only claim to attention is her decision to run anti-abortion ads so repugnant that even members of her own party have disavowed her candidacy.