Republican challenger to Gerry Connolly says Syria will be ‘primary issue’ of 2014 campaign

A Republican angling to unseat Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) in 2014 says he will make Syria the “primary issue” of the campaign, as he hopes to use the incumbent’s support for airstrikes against him.

Ron Meyer Jr. — a conservative activist who will turn 25 next September, just barely making the constitutional threshold to serve in the House — declared in April that he would run against Connolly in the Fairfax-based 11th district, in part because he believed older generations were leaving “an unsustainable, debt-ridden government to younger generations.”

On Friday, Meyer seized on Syria, which has divided both parties along unusual lines.

“I plan to make this war in Syria the primary issue of the 2014 midterm election,” Meyer said in a press release. “It is unfathomable that the Washington establishment, including Gerry Connolly, is supporting a war which is overwhelming unpopular with the American people. . . .

“If Congress passes this war resolution or the President acts alone, the American voters will rise up next November and send a clear message to the Capitol.”

Connolly’s campaign declined to comment on Meyer’s statement.

Meyer’s message cited a Washington Post story about a town hall meeting Connolly conducted in Woodbridge on Thursday. Connolly acknowledged that the reaction to proposed airstrikes in his district has been “overwhelmingly negative” and the idea is “unpopular.”

Connolly is inclined to support strikes anyway, though he has crafted a draft authorization of force with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) that would provide a limited time frame for strikes and prohibit the use of ground troops.

Meyer, who has worked for a handful of conservative interest groups, is so far the only Republican to enter the race, and he has earned the endorsement of ex-Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R), who held the seat before Connolly. Whoever wins the GOP nomination will face an uphill fight next November.

The 11th district, which includes most of Fairfax and Prince William counties, was previously battleground territory — Connolly beat businessman Keith Fimian (R) by just 981 votes in 2010. But the district was redrawn after the 2010 Census, part of a bipartisan deal cut in Richmond that shored up incumbents from both parties. Last year, Connolly beat retired Army Col. Chris Perkins (R) by 25 points.