In the rematch between Republican Keith Fimian and Democrat Gerald Connolly, taxes and spending are dominant issues that will likely influence a number of voters. While jobs are important here, the D.C. area has suffered less job losses than most of the country, so it may be on a slightly lower boil. The area had been held by a moderate Republican for many years, so Connolly’s victory over Fimian in 2008 marked a turning point; though the district leans Democrat at the moment, it could swing to Fimian if voters are disgruntled enough.
Candidates for Virginia’s 11th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes most of Fairfax County, part of eastern Prince William County, and the of city of Fairfax. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Gerald E. Connolly
Political experience: Apart from having served his first term in the House, Connolly was chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and had served as the Providence District Supervisor.
Other boards roles he has been involved in include serving as chairman of the board of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), and being a member of the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). He also worked for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Professional experience: Connolly served for 20 years as vice president for Washington operations for SRI International and as vice president for community relations for SAIC.
Key issues: Connolly secured funding, according to the issues section of his website, to lower class sizes and save teacher jobs in his district. While in local government, he helped develop a transportation plan that included final approval for rail to Dulles International Airport, launching the Richmond Highway Express and widening and improving Route 123.
He voted against TARP bank bailouts and for a crackdown on credit card company fees, rate hikes and deceptive practices.
Endorsements: Connolly has been endorsed by the LCV Action Fund and the Asian American Action Fund.
Chances of maintaining his seat: Voting for health care reform and the stimulus package, Connolly has made himself vulnerable during an anti-incumbent election. Voters in northern Virginia are generally conservative when it comes to taxes and spending. However, he does have the advantage of incumbency if he can explain his votes in terms of saving taxpayer dollars, something the issues section of his website does a bit. He and Fimian have raised roughly the same money, but Connolly has far more on hand, according to OpenSecrets.org, still maintaining $1,274,467 to Fimian’s $271,915 as of mid September.
Candidate: Keith Fimian
Political experience: Fimian is president of the D.C. area Youth Leadership Foundation.
Professional experience: Fimian is chairman and founder of U.S. Inspect, a provider of residential and commercial property inspection services. He has also worked in international accounting for KPMG.
Key issues: According to his website, Fimian opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and takes a strong stand on enforcement, while noting that the highly skilled and educated should be made more welcome. He notes he is pro-life, for traditional marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act and he agreed with the Supreme Court decision on DC vs. Heller regarding gun restrictions.
Fimian is opposed to cap and trade and would like to increase energy independence by expanding drilling for oil and natural gas, expanding nuclear, wind and solar power.
Endorsements: Fimian is endorsed by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Chances of unseating Gerald E. Connolly: Connolly is very vulnerable, though the district should now be considered Democrat-friendly. The issues section of Fimian’s website stands out for providing fairly in-depth explanations of his positions. If he comes across to the highly educated voters of his potential district as having a coherent plan, it may be the edge he needs in a very competitive race. However, at the moment it still appears that Connolly has the advantage.
Key Differences between Keith Fimian and Gerald E. Connolly
Taxes and spending: Connolly understands that taxes are a major issue in his district; he supports extending the Bush tax cuts and points to a record of cutting taxes and fees while in local government. He even points to tax cuts that can be found in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He claims to have voted against $500 billion in “wasteful overspending.” Fimian, while also supporting preserving the tax cuts, would like to see a more substantial tax overhaul, including cutting the payroll tax for small businesses and eliminating the so-called “death tax” and capital gains for three years for small businesses. He is pledging to cut taxes until unemployment reaches 5 percent.
Health care: Fimian opposed the current health care reform and would like to see changes made by increasing competition among insurance providers and by cutting costs through tort reform and health insurance tax deductions. Connolly voted for health reform and says he is proud of his vote.
Veterans: Connolly says he is committed to improving services and ensuring veterans have full health care benefits. Fimian makes the same commitment, while expanding to include his belief that a seamless transition to civilian life and better access to services for disabled veterans should be available.
Virginia‘s 11th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Virginia 11th District is a northern Virginia district that’s part of suburban Washington D.C., including portions of Fairfax and Prince William counties.
2008 results: Gerald Connolly beat Keith Fimian 55 percent to 43 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 57.7 percent of the district is white, 11.3 percent black, 14.4 percent Hispanic, 13.8 percent Asian and 0.2 percent American Indian and Native Alaskan.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Virginia 11th District a rating of D+2, awarding a slight edge to Democratic voters in this district.