There’s a long line of ambitious Republicans awaiting Virginia Rep. Frank R. Wolf’s retirement, creating a political bottleneck as jammed as Interstate 95 traffic during rush hour.
It’s likely they’re going to have to wait a little longer to run for the prized, GOP-leaning 10th District just miles outside the capital.
Once again, all signs point to Wolf seeking re-election in 2014, despite rumors of his retirement that arrive with every new Congress. Wolf has plenty of time to make a final decision, but GOP sources in the state said Wolf appears likely to seek an 18th term.
“He was making money calls two days ago,” former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said Thursday. “I’m as close to him as anybody, and he’s given me no indication” of retirement.
Wolf had $187,000 in the bank at the end of 2012, a few weeks after he was re-elected with 58 percent. He overperformed the top of the GOP ticket by almost 10 points. What’s more, his office made it clear on Friday that — until he says otherwise — the 74-year-old congressman is here to stay.
“Congressman Wolf in January filed the necessary paperwork to run for re-election,” said Dan Scandling, Wolf’s chief of staff.
That may come as a disappointment to some aspiring politicians in the state — including former Rep. Artur Davis, a former Democrat from Alabama who has since switched parties and moved to Virginia.
Republicans mention several potential candidates eyeing that seat when it’s open: state Del. Barbara Comstock, a former Wolf aide; state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, whose husband Alex Vogel is a name partner in a top D.C. lobbying firm; and Davis.
A potential Davis congressional bid, in 2014 or later, should be taken seriously, sources said. Davis, who could also seek a state legislative seat, has garnered support in the state after various local and national appearances, including at the Republican National Convention in August. He received a standing ovation at the state party’s annual gathering late last year in Virginia Beach.
Davis is keeping a steady pace of speaking appearances, according to a copy of his schedule obtained by CQ Roll Call. He will speak to at least four local GOP groups across the state in the next month, including the William & Mary College Republicans on Thursday.
“I have great admiration for Frank Wolf and expect he will serve for a number of additional years,” Davis told CQ Roll Call. “Should Frank decide he has different plans in 2014, it is fair to say that there are about 10 Republicans in Northern Virginia who would take a hard look at the race — and I would be one of them.”
The list of interested names seems to extend as wide as the district itself, which encompasses much of exurban Virginia outside Washington, D.C. The 10th stretches east from the West Virginia border, with tentacles to the north reaching deep into McLean along the Potomac River and to the south to the Occoquan along I-95.
Wolf came to Congress in 1981, 10 years before the next closest in seniority from the Old Dominion — Democratic Rep. James P. Moran of Arlington — arrived at the Capitol. Their hold on two of the region’s three seats in Congress has clogged for the past two decades what would otherwise be attractive opportunities to scores of politicians in one of the wealthiest areas of the country.
“That is one of the most coveted seats,” said one Virginia GOP consultant of the 10th District, the only GOP-leaning seat in the area.
Two GOP sources said Wolf has carefully guarded the shape and makeup of his district during redistricting over the past few cycles.
Republican consultant Boyd Marcus said Wolf “got exactly the district he wanted ” — one that had to include his Vienna home and the exurban counties to the west. Marcus has known Wolf since the early 1980s, when Marcus served as chief of staff to former Rep. Tom Bliley, who was elected the same year as Wolf.
“All the congressmen have to work at persuading the legislators down here in Richmond to give them what they want,” Marcus said. “He was very involved in that from the beginning, and I see nothing really substantive that indicates he would do anything other than continue to serve as long as he’s in good health.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.