In southwestern Virginia, they might not vote for Pelosi, but many still back Boucher

By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 24, 2010; 7:53 PM


Voters who prioritize experience and know-how over "new faces"

TV ads in this sprawling rural district in southwest Virginia accuse Rep. Rick Boucher of voting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 96 percent of the time. Blue signs denigrating Pelosi dot yards. Campaign literature about her fills mailboxes.

But in an outpatient clinic built here in this solidly Republican county with money Boucher secured, a steady stream of veterans didn't want to talk about Pelosi.

They wanted to talk about Rick, the guy they all seem to know and the guy who seems to know what they need and how to get it.

"I'm not going to say anything bad about Boucher," Nathan Akers said.

The 61-year-old spoke proudly of how Boucher opposed the federal health-care bill because he said it would have threatened several hospitals in the region. "He's his own man," Akers said. "He stood up for what he believes in."

Akers said members of Congress should be subjected to term limits. Members, that is, other than Boucher, who is vying for his 15th term.

Boucher is in his toughest race in two decades, against state House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith. Griffith's message is simple: Boucher is a career politician who supports Pelosi's bailouts and emissions limits, which would cost Virginia jobs.

But some folks here struggled to come up with Griffith's name. Others knew only that he lives just outside the district in Salem.

The veterans knew plenty about Boucher and what he has done for them.

Half a million dollars for improvements to the airport. Three new cars for the sheriff's department. A new criminal justice training academy. And millions and millions of dollars for new public water systems.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company