Wolf will not seek re-election to Congress

Posted: December 18, 2013

The Winchester Star

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (Va.-10th) will not run for re-election in Nov. 2014 and will retire after 34 years in Congress.

WINCHESTER — Local Congressman Frank Wolf announced Tuesday he wouldn’t be seeking an 18th term next fall.

The Republican 10th District representative won’t “do any press” beyond the statement he released Tuesday afternoon, spokeswoman Jill Shatzen said.

Wolf was first elected to Congress in 1980, but didn’t represent Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties until 1992, when redistricting moved the localities from the 7th District to the 10th.

The 10th District also includes parts of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, as well as the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley,” Wolf said in his statement. “As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom — both domestic and international — as well as matters of the culture and the American family. My passion for these issues has been influenced by the examples of President Ronald Reagan, former Congressmen Jack Kemp and Tony Hall, Chuck Colson, and the life of 18th century Member of Parliament William Wilberforce.”

Wolf has been pressing for the formation of a House of Representatives select committee to investigate the attack of the U.S. diplomatic station in Benghazi last year.

He has also focused on human rights abuses such as human trafficking both in the U.S. and abroad, and religious and political persecution in Asia and Africa.

In a talk with Handley High School students in October, Wolf said a trip to famine-ravaged Ethiopia in 1984 was “life-changing.”

Another veteran Republican, 33rd District Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg, traveled with Wolf to Bosnia in the mid-1990s and said he felt a kinship with him.

“You learn to know what people are made of in those circumstances,” said May, who lost the Republican primary to Dave LaRock earlier this year after 10 terms in the state’s House of Delegates. “We wore body armor and slept behind sandbags and had armed protection all around us all the time, and Frank’s every bit what he says he is, and that’s a humanitarian.”

May said Wolf’s announcement was a “shocker.”

“[I’m] really sorry to see that Congressman Wolf is not going to continue his service,” he said. “He’s one of the good guys, on whose word you can count. I’ve enjoyed that for 20 years.”

May, who will seek Sen. Mark Herring’s 33rd District state Senate seat as an Independent if Herring’s victory in the attorney general’s race is upheld following this week’s recount, said he didn’t intend to run for Wolf’s post.

“I’m really focused very much on continuing to serve Virginia, and I’m not sure that I’m up to the level of frustration that has to exist at the federal level,” May said. “Virginia’s much more to my liking, and it’s the place where I have felt like I’ve been able to make a difference.”

May said he expected there to be a clash of politicians jockeying for the seat.

Last week, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust announced he would run for the 10th District seat as a Democrat. Other Democratic candidates include Richard Bolger, an attorney from Fairfax, and Sam Kubba, an architect from Leesburg.

Possible Republican contenders bandied about include Del. Barbara Comstock, Fairfax County; Sen. Richard Black, Loudoun County; Artur Davis, who represented Alabama as a Democrat in Congress but has since relocated to Virginia and became a Republican, and businessman Keith Fimian.

State Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville — who represents the 27th District, including Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties — removed herself from the short list of possible congressional hopefuls. She said her phone had been steadily ringing with others urging her to consider a House run Tuesday afternoon.

“I think it’s interesting because I’m really [flattered],” Vogel said. “I have much more capacity to do good and have an impact in Virginia by being in the state Senate for sure.”

She was surprised by Wolf’s decision.

“It’s a very sudden announcement,” Vogel said. “I was not expecting it. I’m surprised, but I’m not surprised because he’s had a long run. He has distinguished himself on a lot of the human rights [issues]. He has certainly made an enormous contribution to this community, and has had a really distinguished career.”

Infamous White House state dinner crasher Tareq Salahi released a statement saying he intended to seek the Republican nomination for the seat.

A chorus of commendations came in from Virginia leaders at the state and national levels.

In a statement, Gov. Bob McDonnell called Wolf a “Virginia institution” who put the commonwealth above the Republican party.

“As the longest serving member of our congressional delegation, he possesses a knowledge of the commonwealth that few can match,” McDonnell states. “As a person, he possesses the kind of compassion, empathy and understanding that we all only hope to emulate. There is a reason Frank has served so long, and why his retirement is being met with so many expressions of admiration and respect: he has earned it.

“His public service has never stopped, however, at the Potomac River, or the Atlantic Ocean. Frank is perhaps best known for his human rights work, whether it be standing for peace in the Sudan, or fighting for justice for the victims of human trafficking.”

In a statement, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner called Wolf a “tireless and leading advocate for religious freedom around the world.”

“We have worked closely together on Northern Virginia transportation issues, and partnered in consecutive sessions of Congress on bipartisan legislation that would encourage the on-shoring of jobs back to Virginia which have moved overseas in recent years,” the statement says. “Frank has also been a passionate advocate and reliable ally in my ongoing efforts to find common ground on issues surrounding our nation’s deficits and debt.”

Virginia’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Tim Kaine, also issued a statement.

“For more than 30 years, Frank Wolf has exemplified the best in public service through his dedication to the people of Virginia’s 10th District,” the statement says. “Frank’s passion has also extended to the global stage through his leadership on the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and longtime support for religious freedom around the world — an effort that has inspired me to take up the cause of religious freedom in my own work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins said in a statement Tuesday that he admired Wolf’s refusal to do any political events on Sunday.

“That was his day to worship and to be with his family,” he said. “He is one of the most honest and devout people it has ever been my privilege to know. He believed and practiced that the two most important things in his life were his God and his family.

“I will miss him in politics, but know he is leaving to commit his life to helping others who desperately need help and hope.”

State Del. Randy Minchew, R-Leesburg, who represents the 10th District, also praised Wolf’s human rights record.

“In American politics, quite often an elected leader’s devotion to great cause is enshrined in the history books as a doctrine; think of the Monroe Doctrine and its Roosevelt Corollary and the Truman Doctrine,” he said in a statement. “I foresee a day in the not-so-distant future when we will hear of the Wolf Doctrine, a principled stand that America will never look the other way when despotic governments around the world enslave their citizens, oppress the free exercise of religious beliefs, and seek to snuff out the light of liberty.”

Winchester Republican Committee Chairman Beau Correll said in a Tuesday interview that Wolf was dedicated in fighting for the oppressed.

“For so many years, his steadfast leadership on fighting for human rights and religious freedom has shed light through the darkest part of the world, from the genocide in Darfur to the recurring communist Chinese oppression of dissidents,” he said.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com