The campaign literature gives the address as Post Office Box 263, Falls Church. But where the mail ends up is in a third-floor office suite across from the Arlington County Courthouse.
The office serves as command post for Republican Frank Wolf's third attempt at unseating Northern Virginia's 10th District Democratic incumbent congressman, Joseph L. Fisher. The location is no accident.
Behind doors adjoining Wolf headquarters sits another man in a suite of his own. In the last year, nearly $40,000 of Wolf's dollars found their way here, as payment for the man and those who work for him.
His name is Ed DeBolt, and if anyone bespeaks the difference between the Wolf and Fisher campaigns, it is he.
"If there's ever a revolution," says one GOP functionary, "I want to be on his side."
One of the state's savviest Republican strategist, DeBolt, a paid political consultant, was the man behind the victories of Gov. John N. Dalton and Sen. John W. Warner; he is the man behind Frank Wolf.
He also is without counterpart among his Democratic adversaries, partly, say the Democrats' own political wizards, because high-priced consultants simply don't fit their style. "That's something we've always fought," said Paddy McLaughlin, long one of Fisher's inner circle. "Back in the '50s a candidate tried hiring one and the idea of somebody coming in and running somebody's campaign got everyone up in arms."
As much as this contest pits Fisher, a scholarly 65-year-old economist, against Wolf, an aggressive 41-year-old lawyer-lobbyist, the 10th District race is also between DeBolt and tireless Democratic commandos; between youthful adventurers and salty political activists; between people with origins and interests as diverse as those found anywhere in the metropolitan area.
John Steffey, a retired engineer for a pipe organ manufacturer in Hagerstown, is, the Fisher workers say, typical of the volunteers on whom their campaign relies. When Steffey stuffs envelopes or mans the phone bank at Fisher's Falls Church headquarters, he does it with plastic tubes inserted in his nose and attached to a portable oxygen tank. Steffey suffers from emphysema.
Once president of the Hagerstown Republican Club, Steffey first joined forces with Fisher when he left Maryland and moved in with his sister in McLean. "Let's face it," he says, "most of the people are up and down on the presidential race. This affects the races further down because people aren't turned on by the thing."
Were it not for his oxygen "walker," Steffey, 66, would be at home, tethered to a tank at the end of a 40-foot-hose. People in the campaign office joke that when Steffey gets busy on the phones, he just "turns up the juice."
Last fall, Gus Hubal resigned his Pentagon post as assistant to the director for Naval Intelligence to become Wolf's $1,400-a-month campaign manager. A cagey exsubmarine captain, Hubal grew up on Long Island with a father who held various offices in the local Republican party. As a teen-ager, he joined a Republican youth organization. His 27-year naval career precluded his return to politics until last year.
Hubal met Wolf last summer "through mutual friends" and after a "long chat about ideals and philosophy," accepted the campaign's top job.
Hubal, who seems to have adopted his candidate's near-permanent frown, sometimes bristles at questions. "I'm not going to get into that," he snaps. "My position as a staff person is to portray Frank's positions. I would not have worked for Frank Wolf if I did not have complete confidence in him and his views."
Janet Taliaferro, Fisher's $400-a-month comanager, came from a long line of conservative Republicans in Oklahoma City. She jumped the political fence one day in the early 1950s after hearing Joe McCarthy address students at Southern Methodist University. "I was so disgusted with the whole repressive attitude at the time, that was my way of showing my independence."
In 1956, she volunteered for Adlai Stevenson's campaign back in Oklahoma City. Later she became a member of the state's Democratic Central Committee and managed the local headquarters for Sen. Fred Harris.
Following her husband's unsuccessful bid for Congress, she moved to Washington where he took a political appointment in the Interior Department. In 1968, she wrote issue papers for Hubert Humphrey, then the Democratic presidential nominee. Six years later, she managed the congressional primary campaign for a former Fairfax County supervisor, who lost to Fisher. In 1976, Fisher called her to do the same for him again and this year she came back again.
"A lot of politicians don't have the strength of character to ask someone who's worked against them to work for them," Taliaferro said. "I've always thought that said a lot more about him than it did about me."
Barbara Reilly first met Wolf through Bob Heiney, who hired Wolf as a lobbyist for the National Canners Association 15 years ago and has taken over Wolf's Gerber Baby Foods account while he campaigns.
Reilly, 25, was teaching first grade at Montfort Academy near her home in Fredericksburg, but resigned to volunteer for his race after she met him. "It's, like, his [Wolf's] ambition, his goal" to be a congressman, Reilly said. "Bob and I respect him so much, we want to help him out."
During the summer, Reilly cooked in a Youth Conservation Corps camp to save money for her stint as a volunteer. "I paid all my bills through January, so I still have a couple bucks just to fool around with.
"This kind of thing only comes up once in a lifetime," she says. "So I took the gamble. I can always teach."
A Catholic and faithful Republican, Reilly shares most of Wolf's stated views. "I'm glad Frank doesn't want the federal government to pay for abortions. I feel the same way. People are adults and if they can't take care of themselves, that's pretty bad. Why should I have to pay for it?"
Like others in Northern Virginia's Democratic club, Fisher's staff spokeswoman Jean McDonald moved to Washington when California Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown lost to Ronald Reagan. Her husband, one of Brown's press spokesmen, took a job with the Peace Corps after the election.
Jean McDonald was introduced to Arlington politics over dinner with Anne Broder, a school board member and wife of columnist David Broder, whom McDonald's husband had met during one of the newspaperman's swings through the West Coast.
In the late '60s, McDonald did volunteer work in Arlington's local races and met Fisher, then on the county board. In 1971, she wrote Fisher's press releases in his bid for a third term on the board. "In the meantime," she said, "My kids had learned to cook. Somehow, nothing had collapsed with my not being there full-time."
McDonald, who attributes her ascent in the political pecking order to the principle that "no good deed should go unpunished," was one of a small but loyal group that first urged Fisher to run for Congress in 1974. She found him to be something of a reluctant candidate. "He's never liked blowing his own horn and trying to get publicity for what he's doing. I tried to get him to call a couple radio stations after he was first elected and it was like pulling teeth."
Ceci Cole, a 24-year-old erstwhile journalist, is McDonald's counterpart on the Wolf staff. The neatly coiffed Florida native whose $700 monthly salary is nearly twice that of any Fisher campaign staffer speaks for the young and ambitious on the Republican team.
Cole, who snared a reporting job with a wire service in Detroit fresh from the University of Florida, first responded to Washington's lure in 1979 when she accepted an internship in the office of Rep. John. T. Broyhill (R-N.C.)
After three months on Capitol Hill, Cole was recruited for George Bush's presidential campaign by a friend at the Republican National Committee. She spent much of the spring doing the candidate's advance work around the country during the presidential primaries, and then began casting about for a permanent job.
"I wasn't sure I wanted to get into politics," she said. "I was supposed to be this young reporter, so why not do that? But you know what it's like trying to get a job."
After a call from DeBolt's office, Cole agreed to an interview with Wolf and Hubal. "You're never going to find a candidate you agree with down the line," she said. "I have to know at least that they reason their way to an opinion. If you'd vote for him enthusiastically, you'd work for him. I entered into it pehaps in a similar mindset, but as you get into it, you kind of get swept up and want him to win."