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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Wittman gets a challenger

Like most Congressional districts in Virginia, the First District, where we live, isn’t drawn to be competitive; at least not usually. Thanks to some creative Gerrymandering, districts in the Commonwealth are drawn to all but guarantee the desired outcome. Only the eleventh district, which is north of us, can be considered competitive. As for the rest, they are designed to fall into one column or the other.

In our case, the First District, which stretches from Prince William and Fauquier, through Stafford and the Northern Neck all the way to Hampton, is reliably Republican. However, there is one thing that I do like about politics, and that’s as predictable as some people want to make it, there are still, from time to time, surprises. Upsets, even in unlikely places like the decidedly-red First District do happen from time to time.

The incumbent, Congressman Rob Wittman, has held the seat since 2007. He has a strong following and is considered the odds-on favorite to win, but that shouldn’t mean he deserves a free pass. Also, there are some peculiarities about the district, particularly issues about military spending and the last year’s government shutdown, that some argue introduce an unstable variable into the political equation.

The Democrats have fielded some strong candidates before. Most are not household names, but Bill Day and Adam Cook ran respectable races and moved the numbers for the Democrats up a few notches. Wittman won easily, but there were still some indications that the district’s demographics are changing and also inkling that this normally restive electorate was more receptive to the Democratic message than it had been in the past. None of this indicates Mr. Wittman is in trouble; he will probably win, but this year, the Democrats may give him a run for his money.
Their nominee, Norm Mosher, selected in a convention, is not a career politician; though has held office before.  He served on the Irvington Town Council, which I still need to find on the map, but for the most part, defines himself by his service career and his business. That’s refreshing. He is a retired Navy Captain. During the early days of the Vietnam War, when U.S. involvement was just ramping up, he volunteered for duty in Southeast Asia advising South Vietnamese forces.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in combat. He later went on to higher level commands in the Navy, eventually commanding a destroyer squadron in the Pacific. He’s a ship driver.  But he likes politics and served as a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee when it was chaired by one of the Senate’s most pro-defense Democrats, Sam Nunn, of Georgia. He also started and ran a successful boat manufacturing company.

That’s an appealing resume in a district with so many retired and active duty personnel; not to mention us sailors. The district includes, or is adjacent to several installations and has a large defense contractor base, as well as being home to many current and retired federal employees. Many of these folks weren’t happy about Wittman’s seeming lack of independence from the GOP leadership during the shutdown in October. This issue still lingers; it wasn’t one of the Congressman’s best moments, and in case folks have forgotten, Mosher plans to remind them. He is also passionate about Veterans Affairs, wants to address the college loan situation and the income gap. He is articulate, energetic, and will, given a chance, make this a contest. We, as voters, deserve that.

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