RESULT: Gerry Connelly (D) 53% – Keith Fimian (R) 45%
According to John McArdle of Roll Call, as of July 31, 2008, Virginia’s 11th District “continues to represent Democrats’ best pickup opportunity in Virginia. In that race, well-known Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly (D) is already polling well ahead of wealthy but little-known businessman Keith Fimian (R).” [Roll Call, 7/31/08] According to another Roll Call article, a July 2008 poll commissioned by the Connolly campaign showed him leading Fimian 52 percent to 21 percent with 25 percent of voters undecided. [Roll Call, 7/17/08] Although immigration has not taken center stage in the campaign between Connolly and Fimian, according to Congressional Quarterly Homeland Security, “the 11th District is widely considered vulnerable to Democratic turnover this election. Turnout in Fairfax County, which makes up about two-thirds of the district’s population, has become increasingly Democratic in the last three presidential elections, possibly the result of an influx of immigrants and new voters into the district, said Toni-Michelle Travis, a professor of government at George Mason University.” Fallout around Prince William County’s recent crackdown on undocumented immigrants may also emerge as a factor in the race. [Washington Post, 4/28/08]
The Connolly Position:
LEANS COMPREHENSIVE. Connolly’s campaign website does not feature his positions on immigration reform, but he is recognized as a moderate on the issue. In a November 2007 Roll Call article, Morton M. Kondracke pointed out that his immigration position has not been a liability in previous elections: “in Fairfax County, the GOP candidate for board chairman, Gary Baise, campaigned to make Fairfax as immigrant-unfriendly as nearby Prince William County. He garnered 36 percent of the vote against incumbent Democrat Gerald Connolly.” [Roll Call, 11/8/07] According to Kondracke, “for the umpteenth time, American voters…have rejected a nativist approach to illegal immigration. It ought to be a warning to Republicans: Don’t make this your 2008 wedge issue.” After several Northern Virginia counties passed resolutions cracking down on illegal immigration, as Chairman of the Fairfax board Connolly “resisted calls from Prince William and Loudoun officials to pass a similar measure.” Furthermore, “Connolly has said that immigration remains a federal responsibility and that he wants the county focus on illegal behavior not immigration status.” [Washington Post, 11/27/07]
The Fimian Position:
ENFORCEMENT ONLY. News coverage of Keith Fimian’s positions or comments on immigration are sparse, however Fimian’s campaign website features his perspective. The website states: “We always have and always will welcome immigrants who want to play by the rules and share the American dream. We welcome more immigrants to our shores than almost any other country; and this is one of our strengths… In order to preserve our standard of living and our security, we need to regain control of our borders and we need to know who is entering our country. Congress and the current administration have not done nearly enough to address this problem. Biometric technology should be used that will enable us to know who is here, and whether they have overstayed their welcome. America should also have a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal immigrants who commit crimes.” [Keith Fimian’s Campaign Website, Accessed 8/1/08] Fimian’s website is silent on his strategy for dealing with the millions of undocumented immigrants who are in the United States simply to work.