By Colin Clark
Editor, AOL Defense
Washington: John Douglass, the former head of America’s top defense lobby, will run for Congress in the Virginia district currently held by Rep. Frank Wolf (R).
Douglass, former assistant secretary of the Navy and a retired Air Force general, campaigned vigorously for Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama during the past presidential campaign and was considered a candidate for a senior defense post.
In a telephone interview, Douglass told AOL Defense that Virginia party officials asked him to run in the wealthy, largely white district. “Frank’s been in for 30 years now. It’s time for a change,” Douglass said.
A tireless advocate for increased international defense trade and strong defense budgets when he led the Aerospace Industries Association, Douglass said he will focus on education and national defense issues.
Douglass said he expects to make an official announcement about his run in June. He has picked a district where his chances may be slim.
“Anybody running against Frank Wolf has a tough road ahead of them,” George Mason University professor and expert on Northern Virginia politics Mark Rozell said.
One of the chief reasons for Wolf’s enduring hold on the seat for almost 16 terms is what Republican John Ullyot, onetime spokesman for former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) called “his legendary constituent services.”
Rozell agreed that Wolf does a great job of helping the people in his district. And he said Douglass boasts “excellent credentials” for a Democrat in the district. But, he said it’s a pretty safe Republican seat; Wolf is a social conservative and he does a fine job of helping his constituents. On top of all that, Rozell noted Wolf has broadened his portfolio from the days when he was derisively called a “pothole politician” to include international and human rights issues. For example, Wolf is the Republican who pushed for creation of the Iraq Study Group during the Bush presidency, at a time when the administration did not encourage questions about the course of the war.
The last person to take Frank head-on, Jeff Barnett, won 35 percent of the vote in 2010.
Launching in Spring 2011, AOL Defense will provide news, insight and tools about the defense sector. Follow Colin on Twitter at @colinclarkaol. Follow AOL Defense at @aoldefense.
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