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Voters' Answers: 3. The Last Wolf

Question #3: Will Rep. Frank Wolf become the last Republican to represent any part of Maryland or Virginia inside the Beltway?


Wolf's powerful victory over two-time Democratic challenger Judy Feder was a sweeping and clear statement across the entire district, demonstrating that a moderate Republican who steers clear of most social issues can still win inside the Beltway. Wolf beat Feder by 56-41 in Fairfax--not quite as handily as he won in Loudoun (60-38), Winchester (60-38), Fauquier (69-30) or Clarke County (66-33) but nonetheless a strong win.

In the 11th District, Keith Fimian's relatively strong showing against the heavily favored Gerry Connolly in Fairfax sends much the same message: Had the Republicans found a candidate more like the retiring Tom Davis--a moderate who eschews hard-edged positions on guns, gays, God and other wedge issues--they might have been able to hold on to that seat. Instead, they chose Fimian, a religious conservative whose position opposing abortion rights became a lightning rod in the socially liberal district.

Voters in the 10th District have now twice rejected Feder, who, despite heavy funding and support from national party leaders managed to be left behind by the Obama wave. That's in part a tribute to Wolf's careful attention to local concerns such as road projects and power lines, but also a statement that Feder's academic manner and a campaign that often seemed uninterested in local issues did not go over well in northern Virginia.

The Virginia 10th now seems an anomaly in the Washington region, especially with the Democratic domination now appearing to extend well beyond the Beltway, if Frank Kratovil's apparent victory over Republican Andy Harris holds up in Maryland's 1st District, covering the Eastern Shore and parts of Anne Arundel County.

Continuing dominance by Democrats in the Maryland legislature and an increasing number of Democratic wins in legislative races in what had been solidly Republican areas of northern Virginia make it harder and harder for the GOP to groom potential candidates for Congress in this region. But Virginia Republicans simply cannot afford to cede northern Virginia to the other party--when a chunk of the state accounts for a third of the votes, you have to be there to fight.

By Marc Fisher |  November 5, 2008; 12:02 PM ET
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