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