When I started writing this series, I knew it would be a hard sell. Look, I have a personal connection to this race – Frank Wolf is my Congressman, and he hasn’t been legitimately challenged since 1982. I live in an area turning bluer every day, and I can’t justify it in my head why my Representative is a Republican. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I saw the comments to Part One:
Twenty years ago a Democratic activist said to me, "Oh, Frank Wolf will be there until he dies, or we do."
So far that has been true.
Applaud the sentiment of the diary, but I don't think it's going to happen. If Judy what's-her-name couldn't win against him, I don't think anyone could. Pity.
Wolf has the seat for life.And most expectedly (and annoyingly, for someone making the case):
People are used to him being their congressman. I think if he ever retires it is winnable for the democrats. I know democrats in his district that vote for him saying he is moderate, which he isn’t.
Where was this the last three elections?That’s the thing. He is. And that’s what I want to highlight in this diary.
Why didn’t anybody else say anything?
Why didn’t anybody else CARE?
Admittedly, we could do far worse than Frank Wolf – he’s strictly a Party hack rather than committed to an insane ideology.
Frank Wolf is just as bad as every extremist Republican out there, but he’s even more insidious – he stays out of the spotlight, convinces everyone on the left that he’s “not so bad” while constantly voting the party line – 90% OF THE TIME! -- while cosponsoring radical right wing legislation and feeding the nutjobs with the kind of red meat that prevents him from being primaried.
Join me as I take a look at Frank Wolf’s record and how it contrasts the political realities of the district.
To understand where I’m coming from with this series, you have to ask yourself the following:
What kind of person would vote for both Barack Obama and Frank Wolf? Tim Kaine and Frank Wolf? Mark Warner and Frank Wolf?
As I detailed in part one, there is an enormous, even anomalous, crossover vote in VA-10. Some of the credit here has to be given to Wolf himself, grudgingly; when I’ve talked to people about him, they refer to him as the quintessential “pothole politician” – extremely responsive to constituents about non-ideological issues.
The problem is, when you get to the ideological issues, he’s so far out there that it makes literally no sense. Usually, the districts in which this sort of thing happens have an incumbent that is seen as a moderate deep in enemy territory. The difference here is that usually, those moderates tend to fall on the social libertarian/economic conservative side of the political spectrum. That isn’t the case with Frank Wolf. As I will detail, Frank Wolf may not make the news very often as a result of his wingnuttery, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t just as bad as the Eric Cantor/Paul Ryan wing of the Republican Party. He just hides it better.
Frank Wolf is firmly in the extreme right wing on women’s rights. There is no other way to say this. He has a robust 0% rating from NARAL (which translates, of course, to a 100% from the National Right to Life Committee) and has repeatedly voted against abortion rights.
He co-sponsored HR 1797 – the 20-week abortion ban – back in April.
He voted for the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (which, if I may have an aside, is a hilarious name for a bill just designed to limit abortion rights) in 2012.
He has voted consistently to defund Planned Parenthood, remove abortion funding from the Affordable Care Act (in addition to voting to repeal ACA – we’ll get there in a bit), and enforce parental consent clauses for minors.
In short, he is an enemy to the cause of women’s rights. He has done, and will continue to do, everything a legislator can do from a federal level to limit access to abortion and Planned Parenthood facilities. This may not come as much of a surprise to most, considering that big red (R) next to his name, but considering his moderate image, it’s important to establish these facts.
There is a long and well-documented history of Frank Wolf supporting regulation designed to restrict a woman’s right to make decisions about her own personal healthcare. None of that should be any surprise to even casual observers. However, what most people don’t realize is that Wolf is also in the wing of the Republican Party which votes against the Violence Against Women Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He also is apparently against prosecuting people who physically threaten and intimidate women outside of abortion clinics, so I guess he has that going for him.
Frank Wolf is nothing if not a representative case of how little respect the Republican Party has for women. Just because he doesn’t have any sexy soundbites to use as a rallying cry to drive fundraising from the netroots doesn’t mean he’s not just as bad as Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Rick Perry, and the rest of the misogynist right. Just look at his voting record.
Given what we know about Wolf’s record on women’s rights, it’s predictable that he’s also an opponent of marriage equality and LGBT rights. His record of voting in favor of discriminating against people for their sexual orientation is as impressive as it is disgusting.
Dating back to 1993, Wolf led the charge in favor of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA; if this was more uncommon in those days, of course, it would be easier to be outraged. However, Wolf also took the extra step (which, to his credit, is rare for him!) of voting to screw legally established domestic partners out of their rights to adopt, receive healthcare benefits, or enforce their right to be recognized in the first place.
He was quiet on the issue (he’s a sneaky one, as you know) for a number of years until the issue came up again in 2006. This time, it wasn’t enough to just vote against legislation – this time, he had to cosponsor a potential Constitutional Amendment to ban same sex marriage. This, of course, is a feat he managed to duplicate just a few weeks ago by co-sponsoring known insane asylum escapee Tim Huelskamp’s proposed Constitutional Amendment looking again to ban same sex marriage. Because, you know, the gays and ick or something. Gotta protect marriage, I guess.
When you look at his stance on marriage equality, you realize that Wolf is one of those impressive conservatives who doesn’t see the irony in the fact that he wants to shrink the size of government except when it’s enforcing regulations on people or things he finds gross.
Immigration Reform and Hispanic/Latino Relations
No surprises here: as he does 90% of the time, Wolf stands firmly with the radical wing of his party on immigration. In the mid 90’s, he made two of the least surprising votes of all time, voting to deny public education and any sort of government benefits to undocumented workers. From there, he voted the predictable route on issues like English as the National Language, creating a border fence, supplementing border fence funding, fixing the border fence, building a border fence above and beside the border fence, and also border fence.
More recently, he voted against the DREAM Act and voted to deport individuals who would have been affected by it, which actually drew some DCCC attention a month ago. I’m not sure what they have up their sleeves – whether they have a candidate or they’re just probing like Wolf’s spokesman seems to think – but it’s important to note that this could be an important issue in the increasingly Hispanic 10th District.
Wolf’s record on voting rights is equally spotty. In 1993, he was an opponent of the Motor Voter bill and has voted several times to make it more difficult to register to vote.
Ah, this one’s fun. Wolf only has a B+ rating from the NRA, and if you really look into his interest group ratings, Wolf occasionally gets hit with a low rating from a gun organization or two. Have we finally stumbled on a moderate issue of his?
The answer: not really. He voted against the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, voted against Instant Background Checks in ’93 and 24/72 Hour Checks in ’99. In 2005, he voted yea on S.397 protecting firearms manufacturers from civil litigation, and then continued by repealing the DC Firearms Ban in 2008.
Then, he had some ridiculous statements following Sandy Hook about how video games were more to blame for the violence than guns, because, you know, Call of Duty and stuff. Perfectly logical. Or something.
Even if he has voted in favor of background checks once or twice, don’t be confused – he’s a crafty guy who looks for political cover, not a principled advocate for gun control.
Frank Wolf doesn’t really like poor people.
Okay, that might be a bit hyperbolic, but his voting record certainly suggests it. Throughout his career, he has consistently voted to limit funding to welfare and safety net programs, in addition to a fixation on work-for-welfare provisions. He voted against the Farm Bill in 2008 due to SNAP, then voted against the Farm Bill in 2013 until they took that pesky SNAP out, at which point he voted for it immediately.
He voted against extending the Payroll Tax Cut in 2012 because, like a good Republican, he’s in favor of tax cuts as long as they don’t help people who make less than $250,000 a year. He voted against an extension of unemployment benefits in 2010, voted against H.R. 1586 in 2010 to give aid to the states for Medicaid, and voted against the Appalachian Regional Development Act in 2006.
Oh yeah, he’s also voted 39 times now to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Take that, poor people!
Civil Rights and Privacy
Party line guy here. Voted for the PATRIOT Act, voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006, voted to keep enemy combatants in prison indefinitely without charges, and has voted repeatedly to keep Guantanamo open. Additionally, he has repeatedly voted to reauthorize and make FISA more robust, voted against Net Neutrality, and voted in favor of CISPA. Despite a public statement professing mild disapproval for SOPA, I think we all can guess how he would’ve voted had it hit the House floor.
Other Fun Wolf Facts
He voted for the Iraq war.
He voted for the Bush Tax Cuts.
He voted for Medicare Part D.
He voted for TARP.
He voted against the stimulus.
He has voted against raising the debt ceiling, voted against the tax cut deal this year, and voted for the Ryan Budget.
Most importantly in the 10th District, he voted for the Budget Control Act in 2010 and voted against the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act in 2012. In a district where nearly a fifth of the citizens work, in some respect, for the Federal Government, it is shocking and appalling that he would vote to slash so many of his constituents’ salaries and then vote against fixing that major boo-boo. Even better, all he’s done since failing to take action to replace the sequester has been to make noise about Benghazi.
The 10th District
As with most of Northern Virginia, the 10th District is hardly a bastion of conservative politics.
His district is contained wholly within the 10th District, and in my experience, it is representative of both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties at the very least – those two counties, plus blue Manassas and Prince William, comprise over 70% of the electorate in this district.
Two thirds of those polled were pro-life, and nearly 60% support same sex marriage. 72% were in favor of additional gun control. 61% were open to some sort of an increase in tax revenue in order to balance the state budget. This is not red country, and yet, our Representative is about as red as they come.
The DCCC should view Wolf as vulnerable in the right scenario and should field a strong candidate in this district, rather than just a name on a ballot. The other part of this case is that in order to win this race, the netroots needs to play a big role. Any candidate is going to be at a major fundraising disadvantage against Wolf, especially since most people (wrongly) see this seat as unwinnable and not worth the effort.
With the right candidate, not only is this a winnable race, it’s also one WORTH winning. Wolf is as insidious a guy as there is in Congress; he’s the epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He pretends to be quite innocuous – a Republican we can deal with – while quietly voting for everything we find reprehensible. What kind of person would vote for Barack Obama and Frank Wolf? A voter given no choice by our lack of effort in the district. A voter who takes Frank Wolf at face value when he says he struggles with issues that he just consistently votes along party lines. A voter who is hypnotized by Wolf’s prowess at constituent relations while ignoring the fact he is completely out of step with their views.
For the sake of my district and for the sake of my country, I can’t let him off the hook. I hope you can’t, either.
Stay tuned for part three, in which I explore the possibility of Wolf’s retirement and Artur Davis jumping into the race.