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Does Fimian want to repeal 17th amendment on popular election of senators?

Ben Pershing

Updated 11:59 a.m.
Of all the issues dominating the 2010 election season, the debate over ending the direct election of senators seems relatively low on the priority list.

Rep. Gerald Connolly's (D-Va.) reelection campaign is trying to change that, highlighting what it claims is Oakton businessman Keith Fimian's (R) desire to repeal the 17th amendment to the Constitution, which ended the practice of senators being chosen by state legislatures.

Repealing the 17th amendment has become a popular cause in some conservative circles, particularly among "tea party" candidates. Their argument is that lawmakers would be more respectful of states' rights if they were beholden to state governments. But does Fimian agree with that sentiment? Not really, though Connolly's campaign is using some creative editing to make it appear that he does.

The issue bubbled up after a June 4 debate between Fimian and Fairfax Country Supervisor Pat Herrity on WTOP radio. (Fimian beat Herrity in the 11th district GOP primary four days later.) Host Mark Plotkin asked the two candidates whether they would support repealing the 17th amendment.

Herrity said he would not. Then Fimian said, "There is some merit to that. Why it was changed in 1910 ... [Plotkin corrects him on the year] ... 1913, I'm sorry, I'm not totally sure. There is merit. And frankly, I would entertain hearing both sides of that argument before I would say yes or no, but I am inclined to say no."

So while Fimian didn't close the door on the idea, he certainly didn't endorse it. But Connolly's camp pounced anyway, launching a website and a video in which a Connolly campaign worker asks voters, "What do you think of Keith Fimian wanting to abolish the 17th amendment?" The video also truncates Fimian's statement, quoting him saying, "There is some merit to that," but omitting the part where he said, "I am inclined to say no."

Connolly beat Fimian in 2008 by making the case that the Republican was too conservative for the moderate 11th district, and he appears to be working from the same playbook this cycle by striving to link Fimian to the tea party movement and its ideas. In this case, Fimian's camp says Connolly has gone too far.

"Desperate to shift voters' attention away from his failed big government, big spending record, Gerry Connolly is already resorting to false attacks just as he did in 2008," said Fimian campaign manager Tim Edson, adding: "Connolly takes 'no' and claims it means 'yes.' An outright falsehood."

A Connolly spokesman said the campaign stands by its interpretation of Fimian's comments, and that he expected Fimian to alter his position on the issue now that the Republican primary is over.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 15, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Election 2010 , Gerald E. Connolly , Keith Fimian  
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Comments

Perhaps not Fimian, but the Tea Party types want to tinker with the Constitution. If they weren't so pathetic, they would be dangerous.

Posted by: jckdoors | June 15, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Does Fimian want to repeal the 17th amendment on popular election of senators? The headline of this blog post asks that question, but nowhere in this article or in his original response to a question posed by WTOP's Mark Plotkin, does Keith Fimian answer it.

It begs the question: Did the reporter even ask Fimian whether he supports or opposes repeal?

It is time for Fimian to fess up and admit he was pandering to the most extreme wing of the tea party by hedging his bets on repeal. His Republican primary opponent, Pat Herrity was absolute in his support for the 17th amendment. Keith, not so much.

Fimian needs to explain why he believes there is merit to stripping away the right of citizens to vote for their senators.
He needs to explain why he questioned whether the 17th amendment should have been adopted in the first place.
And he needs to answer yes or no on whether he supports repeal.

Maybe some enterprising Post reporter could elicit a response from Fimian to those questions.

My advice to Fimian is simple. Just Say No.

Posted by: m050383 | June 15, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

There is merit to considering a repeal of the 17th Amendment. Our system of government is a federation of states and supposedly the only power held by the federal government is that expressly given it by the Constitution. All other powers, real and implied, belong to the states. When the Constitution was written, there were two types of representation to the federal government. The will of the people was transmitted in the direct election by the people of the House of Representatives. The interests of the states as administratively independent governmental units were represented by the selection by a state legislature of that state's Senators. Since the 17th Amendment, the states, as organized entities, have had no representation in the federal government.

Posted by: ksu499 | June 15, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yes. The 17th Amendment is so hallowed.

This came in the middle of a trio of ill-advised constitutional amendments --

16th Amendment - Federal Income Tax
18th Amendment - Prohibition

So, Gerry Connolly opposes campaign finance reform that would eliminate a large chunk of money from politics?

Some of the most expensive elections waged in this country are for the U.S. Senate. That would no longer be the case if the process reverted to Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution with senators chosen by their state legislature as it was before the 17th amendment.

Posted by: JTR555 | June 15, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Wow!! perhaps jckdoors needs tinker around in the library for a while. Incase he hasn't noticed our glorious leader has pretty much flushed the constitution down the toilet. I would much rather have one of those tea party types running the counrty than a man who has absolutely no idea what he is doing!

Posted by: thewzer | June 15, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

jckdoors -- the original tinkering with the Constitution was the 17th amendment. Repeal of it would restore that portion of the document to its original state. The progressive era began around the time that the 16th, 17th and 18th amendments were passed and mark the actual tinkering. While all other amendments to the Constitution appear to be warranted and consistent with original intent, those three are abominations.

Posted by: JTR555 | June 15, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The Connolly campaign is "striving to link Fimian to the tea party movement and its ideas." That's not quite accurate. The Connolly people are only pointing out what is already fact. Fimian has embraced the tea party, its ideas, and its extremist positions with open arms and a big wet kiss.

Posted by: bal1986 | June 15, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Fimian seems to be playing both sides of the fence on the 17th amendment. He wants to keep his strong ties with the tea party types on the extreme right-wing of the spectrum without upseting those of us who believe the people of a given state have a right to elect their U.S. Senators.

Fimian owes the Northern Virginia voters an explanation. Does he or doesn't he want to take the power to elect a senator away from a state's voters and give it to a few dozen state legislators?

Posted by: BackBayRed | June 15, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Repeal it, if only for the fact that would make more people interested in local politics.

Posted by: BO_____Stinks | June 15, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

These prior posts are missing the point.

Through not so elegant editing, Connolly clearlyy lies about Fimian's position. The video despicably deletes from the audio clip the most relevant portion where Fimian expressly says that he does NOT endorse a repeal of the 17th Amendment. Say what you will about the Tea Party activists, but Fimian is not as far out as some. And, with even greater certainty, he thankfully is not of the same slimey ilk as Gerry Connolly.

At lesst this time Connolly wasn't blowing up before the chairman of the Federal Reserve, but Connolly with this video has once again proven himself to be an embarrassment to all the people of Virginia.

Posted by: LloydtheIdiot | June 15, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Connolly is on the wrong side of the real issues facing Virginians so he hastily misrepresents Fimian’s position on this issue.
What Connolly fails to understand is many Virginians understand that the 17th amendment has resulted in U.S. Senators taking their direction from party leaders and not the states from whence they came.
The yes vote on the extremely unpopular Obamacare legislation by Senators Webb and Warner and the subsequent passage of the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act provides a strong rational for repealing it.
Our Senators were pressured by Harry Reid, Rahm Emmanuel, and others while our General Assembly, the very body, which if not for the 17th amendment would be responsible for electing Senators, was doing all they could in a bipartisan fashion to protect us from this over reach of Federal power. I, and I’m sure Keith Fimian, are not so naive to think that the 17th amendment will ever be repealed but I do not think there is any reason to marginalize as wingnut kooks those with the intellectual fortitude to examine the merits of doing so.
I would question anyone, including Connolly, who fails to recognize that the 17th amendment has weakened our system of Federalism and the dual sovereignty which existed before it’s enactment.

Posted by: jnowlin2 | June 15, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the commenters to this post who are pro-Fimian and anti-Connolly certainly show their radical racism. In every case, they state that the anti-17th Amendment sentiment is to strengthen our system of Federalism. Federalism means states-rights. States-rights means the right to openly discriminate against all non-white minorities. Really amazing to still read so much hate in Virginia for the minorities in America. Not surprising, but still amazing.

Posted by: peter49 | June 16, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Peter, that isn't what that means at all.

The last refuge of a scoundrel is to charge "racism."

You lose.

Posted by: JTR555 | June 16, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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