U.S. Rep Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10), elected the same year Ronald Reagan won the presidency, sent shock waves through the ranks of Virginia and congressional politicos this afternoon by announcing he won’t seek reelection in 2014.
Wolf’s announcement opens up the floodgates to a pack of potential candidates — both Republican and Democrat -- looking to win a seat that’s been comfortably in GOP clutches for more than three decades.
Wolf, in a prepared statement, said: “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,” Wolf, 74, continued, “has been influenced by the examples of President Ronald Reagan, former Congressmen Jack Kemp and Tony Hall, Chuck Colson, and the life of 10th century Member of Parliament William Wilberforce.”
In addition to regional transportation solutions, Wolf has consistently made human rights issues across the globe a key concern.
Wolf, now in his 34th year representing the 10th District, is often viewed as less of a partisan firebrand than some new Republicans in Congress, especially those with affiliated with the tea party.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) quickly praised Wolf’s service to his constituents.
“Frank Wolf has been a true friend, and a great partner, both when I served as Virginia governor and since I’ve joined Congress,” Warner said. “He is 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,” Warner added. “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.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Dist. 11) also credited Wolf with 34 years of solid public service.
“Frank has been a leader on Rail to Dulles, a tireless champion of federal workers, a partner in gang prevention, and a passionate advocate for human rights around the world,” said Connolly. “Congress and Northern Virginia will forever be grateful for his service.”
Democrat Jim Moran, who has represented Virginia’s 8th District for more than 20 years, also praised Wolf’s service to Northern Virginia.
“I’ve had the privilege of serving with Frank for the past 23 years. From transportation issues to protecting federal workers, we have always found common ground around what’s best for Northern Virginia,” said Moran in a prepared statement. “Frank has been a tireless advocate for his constituents over his 17 terms in office. I’ll miss him, he is a friend and I know will continue to be.”
The “breaking” and “VA10” hashtags lit up Twitter within minutes of Wolf’s announcement. Reporters and pundits quickly speculated that Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock, state Sen. Jill Vogel or outgoing attorney general and former gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli will seek the GOP nomination to replace Wolf.
Three Democrats have already announced campaigns for the 2014 race — Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, Fairfax attorney Richard Bolger and Leesburg architect Sam Kubba.