Connolly returns to Congress

U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-11th) poses with daughter Caitlin and wife Catherine after voting Nov. 6, 2018, at Fairfax Circle Baptist Church in Merrifield. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

The results never really were in doubt, but now they’re confirmed: Voters on Nov. 6 gave U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-11th) a sixth term.

With 161 of 163 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Connolly was far outpacing Republican Jeff Dove Jr. and Libertarian Stevan Porter, earning 70.38 percent of the vote to Dove’s 27.62 percent and Porter’s 1.86 percent.

Connolly, who previously had served as Providence District supervisor and chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, was at ease shortly after 7 a.m. on Election Day when he came to cast his ballot at Fairfax Circle Baptist Church in Merrifield.

The congressman, wearing a colorful Uncle Sam tie, shook hands with voters and hugged wife Catherine and daughter Caitlin in photos. His wife wore a square “Vote for My Husband” that she’d had made for Connolly’s first election in 1995.

Get-out-the-vote efforts this fall encouraged participation by “a lot of new voters, a lot of infrequent voters and a lot of younger voters, but we’re doing well among seniors as well,” Connolly said.

Health care was the single biggest issue that resonated with voters during this election and it hurt Republicans, Connolly said.

“They voted in the House 60 times-plus to repeal Obamacare and public opinion in that time has shifted,” he said. “People actually like the reforms and the protections against pre-existing conditions that are contained in the Affordable Care Act.”

Connolly predicted Democrats would gain “north of 30, perhaps considerably north of 30” seats, enough to regain the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but said no net gains or losses would be a good night for Democrats in the U.S. Senate elections.

“The math is just very difficult for Democrats this year,” he said. “We’re defending 26 seats, Republicans are defending nine, and [some] of those 26 seats are in deep-red states that Trump won. So holding our own is actually a victory. But we are also going to do very well in governors’ races. There could be a Midwest sweep.”

Democratic control of the House would change everything, Connolly said.

“We would start to have oversight of the administration, which we do not have right now under a Republican Congress,” he said. “We would have accountability, which we do not have now. We’ll return to science-based policy-making, which we do not now have in the Republican Congress.”

The House under Democratic control would be “very active and a very engaged and proactive” as far as hearings, oversight and setting policies on an ambitious legislative agenda that would include immigration, taxes, health care and infrastructure, Connolly said.

“I think you’re going to see a big difference that’s positive,” he said.

Connolly will be part of a three-member Northern Virginia delegation to the House of Representatives, along with U.S. Rep. Don Beyer in the 8th District and incoming U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton in the 10th.

Beyer easily handled Republican Thomas Oh to win a third term, while Wexton defeated incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock.

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