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Letter: With Great Confusion

To the Editor:

It was with great confusion that I read John Lovaas' recent column (Opinion: Who is Running to Represent You in Congress, Sept 20). Mr. Lovaas, whom I consider a friend, helpfully reminds us that Congressman Jim Moran no longer represents Reston in the House of Representatives because redistricting shifted Reston into the 11th Congressional District, currently represented by Congressman Gerry Connolly. Mr. Connolly faces three opponents from across the political spectrum. That much I understood, but several other points in the column confused me.

What first confused me was John’s contention that Mr. Connolly has avoided Reston—an area he knows very well, having served as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for five years. I guess that wasn’t Mr. Connolly I chatted with at a Leadership Fairfax dinner in Reston—before redistricting occurred—or at Reston Association’s 2012 Annual Membership Meeting, or at Reston’s Founders Day, or the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival Opening Night Party in Reston Town Center, or the Best of Reston gala, or the Herndon/Reston Obama campaign office opening, or last week at the Multicultural Festival at Lake Anne Plaza, just outside John’s front door. I’ll have to tell the congressman about his doppelganger when I see him at Bob Simon’s home in a couple weeks.

I became even more confused by the suggestion that Congressman Connolly’s centrism would be a major change from Congressman Moran’s progressivism. Based on my frequent conversations with both gentlemen, I wouldn’t expect any radical departures. The Jim Moran I know has been a great asset to the Northern Virginia’s business community—notice our relatively low unemployment rate and Gerry Connolly has been a leader for liberal causes such as gay rights since his days on the Board of Supervisors. Just to be sure I wasn’t nonplussed on this point too, I compared their voting records at www.opencongress.org/ and found their votes overlap 93 percent of the time. (Mr. Connolly voted with Democrats 91 percent of the time and Mr. Moran 93 percent.)

Next, Lovaas accuses Connolly of “avoiding candidate forums." Now, I don’t believe everything I see on YouTube, but the hour-long video of Congressman Connolly at the Asian-American Northern Virginia candidates forum in Fairfax looks very convincing. You can see for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/user/dcntdtv. Someone must have edited out the Republican candidate for the 11th District because he’s nowhere to be seen. Again, Mr. Lovaas’s description didn’t sound like the congressman I know, so I called his office and learned he has already participated in a number of 11th District forums, including events sponsored by the Black Chamber, the NoVA Urban League, and the Springfield Rotary and Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, Mr. Connolly was unable to attend the forum hosted by Mr. Lovaas. Maybe that so confused John that he forgot to check his facts.

Finally, I was very surprised to learn from John that the 11th District was “created for” Mr. Connolly. Here, I thought the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed the redistricting legislation that was signed by our Republican Governor. Shifting the most Republican areas of the current 11th Congressional District into the 10th Congressional District to protect the 30-year incumbent Republican, Frank Wolf, and whomever Republicans nominate when he retires probably had nothing to do with it. Right?

What’s perhaps most confusing about this whole situation is how Congressman Connolly has managed to spend so much time reacquainting himself with Reston and Herndon while continuing to serve constituents throughout his current district, which sprawls from the Potomac well past Gainesville. On the other hand, this feat isn’t so much confusing as amazing. I for one am eager to have someone with such energy working for Reston and I am pretty sure my friend John will be too. There’s nothing confusing about that.

Mike Collins

Reston