- - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Four years ago, President Obama urged Hispanics to vote to “punish our enemies.” The strategy didn’t work, and the Democrats lost 63 House seats. Rep. Gerald “Gerry” Connolly of Virginia, a Democrat, nearly became No. 64.

Mr. Connolly clung to his 11th District seat by a mere 981 votes of 226,951 cast. Instead of reaching out to the other half of his constituency, Mr. Connolly has taken to heart the president’s admonition to punish enemies.

He demonstrated this at a session of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in February, when Mr. Connolly went after Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of the Texas-based King Street Patriots group of Tea Party activists. Mrs. Engelbrecht told how she has taken abuse for her politics. As soon as she filed for tax-exempt status, her family business was subjected to IRS audits and scrutiny from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the FBI. She could hardly open the door without bumping into a federal agent.

“After nearly 20 years of being in business and no agency coming to visit with us,” Mrs. Engelbrecht testified, “the succession of agencies that have now come to us … begs the question. The statistical probabilities of what happened to me, without motivation, is staggering.”

Hearing this, Mr. Connolly, 64, coldly told her that “it’s a huge leap … to conclude that someone’s out to get you.” Innuendo and “drawing conclusions and paranoia do not substitute for fact-based, empirical oversight,” he said, muttering something about “McCarthyism,” demonstrating that he hardly knew what “McCarthyism” might be. Mr. Connolly demonstrated that he can’t be bothered to look beyond taking care of Democratic partisans.

Voters in his district, which comprises most of Fairfax County and precincts in eastern Prince William County, would clearly be better served by Mr. Connolly’s Republican challenger, Suzanne Scholte, whose work with a nonprofit human rights and pro-democracy organization has won national accolades and international recognition. These include the President’s Volunteer Service Award, presented to her this year by Mr. Obama.

“I’ve been fighting against [abuse] for the last 20 years of my life,” Mrs. Scholte says. “I’m very concerned that the work that I’ve done promoting freedom, democracy and human rights abroad is being eroded here at home.”

She cites the IRS hearings as evidence of abuse inflicted by the Obama administration, which gets only a wink and a nudge from Mr. Connolly. “The fact that the congressman who represents this area would mock those Americans who came to be heard is terrifying to me,” says Mrs. Scholte. Mr. Connolly’s abuse of a woman crying out for help was among the reasons she is running for his seat in Congress.

Taking on a four-term incumbent in a district that leans Democratic is an uphill battle, but this promises to be a good year for Republicans. Voters in Northern Virginia are as fed up as anyone with the tax, spend and regulate record of Messrs. Connolly and Obama. We recommend that residents of the 11th District do something about it on Tuesday by casting a vote for Mrs. Scholte.

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