A report yesterday incorrectly attributed an endorsement of Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) to the Professional Managers Association. The endorsement was from the Federal Managers Association.
Ask Northern Virginia Rep. Frank R. Wolf about his record on the environment and he will talk about his fight to save Turkey Run Farm in McLean.
That was in 1981 when Wolf, a freshman Republican, learned that the Reagan administration wanted to close Turkey Run, a 120-acre working replica of a colonial farm that the National Park Service runs near CIA headquarters. Wolf worked closely with a group of private citizens who eventually raised the funds to keep the farm operating.
"Frank said to remind you about that," said a Wolf spokesman. "He's pretty proud of it."
Wolf has made that kind of unstinting attention to local issues a mainstay of his four years in the House and it is a recurrent theme in his reelection battle this fall against Democrat John Flannery.
Concentrating on micro- rather than macropolitics, Wolf has touted what both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge has been dogged, bipartisan work on local issues such as National and Washington Dulles airports to Wolf Trap to commuter traffic on I-66.
"He's not a very flashy congressman, he's kind of a plodder," said Red Evans, assistant executive director of the bipartisan Professional Managers Association, a group of executives who support Wolf. "But he's a steady plodder, he never lets up."
Flannery, as well as several national Democratic, civil rights, consumer, education and labor groups, however, say that Wolf's moderate, bipartisan profile on local issues has enabled the congressman to obscure what they say is a conservative voting record.
"Frank Wolf is entirely out of step with this district," says Flannery. "Look at what he does, not what he says. He's voted against education, for dangerous, first-strike nuclear weapons like the MX, for budget cuts to social programs. It's a 'safety net' that opens on impact."
Others are somewhat more charitable. "I wouldn't describe him as a screaming, far-right winger," says AFL-CIO legislative spokesman Mike Gildea. "You won't see Wolf jumping up and down . . . with those people, but he votes with them. He's a relatively subtle, right-wing conservative. He's always there, marching lock step with the Reagan administration."
Some, including a national bipartisan group known as Citizens Against PACs, criticize Wolf, a former lobbyist, for accepting what they say is heavy financial support from corporate and conservative political action committees.
Wolf makes no effort to hide his voting record. He is one of the few congressmen to mail his constituents a complete account of his every vote, once going so far as to explain that the only votes he had missed during an entire session were "over a two-day period during an officially excused absence following the death of my father."
Still, his votes have not warmed Democrats' hearts: He has consistently opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Although he was the only member of the Virginia delegation to support the Voting Rights Extension Act, he also supported a key amendment to that act that civil rights groups said would have weakened the voting bill considerably. He supports voluntary prayer in public schools, and voted for a version of a bill that would have denied federal money to public schools that failed to allow religious clubs equal access to school facilities. That version of the bill failed. Although his five children have all attended public schools in Fairfax County, Wolf is a strong supporter of tuition tax credits for private schools, legislation critics say could debilitate many public school systems. He voted for the final version of the "Superfund" toxic waste cleanup bill, but not before voting successfully to delete language that would have allowed citizens to sue toxic waste producers for damages as well as sue the Environmental Protection Agency to force cleanup of specific hazardous waste sites. Wolf voted against a Federal Trade Commission proposal that would have required used car dealers to inform potential buyers about a used car's major defects; the proposal was defeated. He has supported virtually every major weapons program of the Reagan administration, including chemical weapons, as well as supporting administration budget cuts to numerous social programs. Wolf has voted to support the CIA's covert war in Nicaragua, and declined to support a nonbinding House resolution condemning the U.S. mining of Nicaraguan harbors. He supports a constitutional ban on abortions except when the mother's life is endangered, and has voted to prohibit federal employes from using their health insurance benefits to pay for abortions.
Wolf says his voting record is well within what the 10th District wants. "I've supported the president on most issues, and I feel very, very comfortable with those policies."
"Our district is made up of very well-informed, well-educated people," says Wolf spokesman Jim Boyle. "They realize that most issues have a lot of gray areas, and they are looking for someone who's reasonable. I think they realize that Frank has a basic sense of fairness and that he informs himself completely on both sides of any issue."
His district, which includes Arlington, Loudoun and the northern half of Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, is, by and large, affluent and well employed, with nearly one-half of its registered voters working for, or living with, someone who works for the federal government.
Democratic and Republican strategists count on Arlington as a Democratic stronghold; Republican turnout tends to increase to the west. Traditionally, one-fifth of the district's registered voters are new to it every two years, and this year, with interest in the presidential contest, the fraction is slightly higher.
Wolf, 45, is a lawyer who grew up in South Philadelphia and worked as a congressional liaison for Richard Nixon's Interior Department as well as a lobbyist before making his first bid for Congress in 1976.
This fall he has conducted a decorous campaign, shunning direct confrontation with Flannery and dismissing the Democrat's attacks as "demagoguery." He says he has been polite but firm in his differences with the president on federal worker issues. "I've had sharp differences on some issues," he says. "I have never been one to make public statements, criticize people personally. I have made my views known very, very sharply."
As might be expected of a congressman in a district filled with federal employes, Wolf emphasizes the federal employe bills that he has shepherded through Congress, including a provision that lifted a pay ceiling, one that standardized the merit pay program and another that increased employes' compensation for moving expenses.
He played an energetic role in having a passenger limit imposed at National Airport, according to citizens groups. He takes credit for increased air traffic at Dulles, the reduction of car-pool restrictions on I-66 and the use of federal funds to rebuild the amphitheater at Wolf Trap Farm Park, after it was destroyed in a fire.
Flannery says that Wolf's efforts on behalf of federal workers have been like "emptying an ocean with a teacup" because he is a member of a party that has been critical, sometimes hostile, to the federal bureaucracy. The quarter-million member American Federation of Government Employees agrees and has endorsed Flannery, as have the National Education Association, the AFL-CIO and a nuclear freeze group called Peace-Pac.
Like many Republicans, Wolf says that he believes voters in the 10th will support him because they see the Republican Party as the road to economic prosperity. "The economic programs of this administration," he says, "will bring everybody up."