Accolades from elected officials of both parties began pouring in from the moment U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10) announced Tuesday that he would not be running for an 18th term in the House of Representatives.
“Congressman Wolf has been a moderate voice representing Northern Virginia,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D). “He’s of the opposite party, but I have enjoyed and appreciated working with him.”
Wolf was first elected in 1980 and will turn 75 in January — an event he normally marks with a campaign kickoff fundraiser on election years. In a statement announcing his decision not to seek re-election, Wolf said he will continue to work on human rights and religious freedom, issues that he has been passionate about during his time in Congress.
“His years-long commitment to addressing human rights and humanitarian needs around the world will remain the standard by which elected officials are measured on these issues for years to come,” Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Dist. 67) wrote in a message to constituents, in which he also describes Wolf as a role model.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) also said he was inspired by Wolf’s work on religious freedom and is taking up the cause in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
On the local level, Wolf was known for his support for local transportation projects. While he was highly critical of the management of the Dulles Metrorail extension at times, he also used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to help secure $900 million in federal funds for the project.
He also led the effort to combat gang activity in his district, bringing law enforcement agencies together to create the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force.
“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,” U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) said in a released statement. “Congress and Northern Virginia will forever be grateful for his service.”
The retirement announcement dramatically shifts the dynamics of the 10th District race in 2014. While Wolf has easily won re-election in recent years, many 10th District voters split their ticket to also support President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
Republican Mitt Romney won the district by about 1 percentage point in 2012 while Wolf picked up more than 58 percent of the votes.
There were already three Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the 10th District: Oak Hill attorney Richard Bolger; Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust of McLean, whose professional background is as an attorney; and Leesburg architect Sam Kubba.
Reality TV personality and former owner of Oasis Winery Tareq Salahi is so far the only Republican to announce his candidacy. Salahi is best known for the 2009 incident in which he and his now ex-wife crashed a White House state dinner.
Del. Barbara Comstock (R-Dist. 34) is also expected to pursue her party’s nomination.