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GOP retirement gives Dems a chance in Va.

Citing the examples of Jesus and 18th century British MP Wilberforce, GOP moderate Frank Wolf announced his retirement. Democrats may be able to grab his seat.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. listen to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, on April 12, 2013.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. listen to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, on April 12, 2013.

One of the last remaining moderate Republicans in the House of Representatives announced his plans not to seek re-election Tuesday. Congressman Frank Wolf has represented the northern Virginia suburb’s 10th Congressional District since 1981 and his vacant seat presents Democrats with an opportunity to pick it up in 2014. 

Wolf said in a statement:

“As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.  I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom – both domestic and international – as well as matters of the culture and the American family.  My passion for these issues has been influenced by the examples of President Ronald Reagan, former Congressmen Jack Kemp and Tony Hall, Chuck Colson, and the life of 18th century Member of Parliament William Wilberforce.”

Wolf, 74, is the longest serving member of the Virginia delegation.  His swing district went 50-49 for Mitt Romney in 2012, but 51-48 for President Obama in 2008.  Democrats already have one announced candidate, Fairfax County Supervisor John Faust.  Romney surrogate Barbara Comstock and former Democratic Congressman from Alabama turned Republican and now resident of northern Virginia, Artur Davis, are among a handful of Republican names mentioned who may considering running to replace Wolf.

Minutes after Wolf announced his decision to retire, Democrats lost a moderate of their own. Conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat Jim Matheson, the only Democrat from Utah, has decided not to seek re-election after twelve terms in Congress. 

"It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the people of Utah during my time in the United States House of Representatives, but my time in the House should not be the sum total of my service,” Matheson said in a statement released on Facebook.  

Matheson, the son of a former governor of Utah, represents the most conservative district held by any House Democrat. Mitt Romney won Matheson’s district with 67% of the vote.  Matheson escaped defeat by a paper-thin margin in 2012 from challenger Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs.  Love, who announced a re-match for the seat in May, would be the only Republican African-American woman in Congress if she wins in 2014.