Goodlatte to retire, Cline seeks his seat

By Alexandra Cline and Alison Murtagh

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican who has represented the sixth district in Congress for 25 years, today tweeted his decision not to run for re-election in 2018.

Republican Del. Ben Cline, who easily won re-election to the House of Delegates Tuesday, quickly announced his intention to run for the position in Washington.

Cline issued a news release complaining of the dysfunction in Washington, where Republicans control Congress and the White House.

“For far too long, Washington insiders have ignored families outside their insular ‘Beltway.’ Again and again they have proved they are out of touch and tone deaf to our struggles,” Cline said.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte

Goodlatte, who has represented Virginia’s sixth congressional district since 1993, serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. By party rules, he must step down from that role at the end of next year.

“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte said.

Local Republican activists said they were disappointed to see Goodlatte retire.

Roger Jarrell, the chair of the Rockbridge Area Republican Committee, praised Goodlatte for his involvement with constituents and dedication to the job.

“He just traveled everywhere, so whoever takes that role, like I said, has shoes to fill,” Jarrell said. “He just out-worked and out-hustled everybody for 25 years.”

Charles Kostelni, the treasurer of the local GOP committee, echoed these sentiments.

“I am disappointed that he’s retiring,” Kostelni said. “He’s been a good representative for the district and a person of hard work, and has done very well for us.”

For Democrats, Goodlatte’s retirement is particularly exciting. Members of local Democratic committees have expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of flipping the seat in 2018.

“I’m hoping that we’ll have a good strong Democratic candidate with a chance of getting elected,” said Gene Zitver, chair of the Lexington Democratic Committee.

Del. Ben Cline

This week, Democrats closed the gap significantly in the state’s previously Republican-dominated House of Delegates.

“I think maybe [Goodlatte] took a look at the results of the Tuesday election and decided that the trends might be starting to go against them,” Zitver said.

For Jay Clarke, chair of the Rockbridge County Democratic Committee, Goodlatte’s decision wasn’t unexpected.

“There was some general feeling that [Goodlatte] might retire,” Clarke said. “That of course opens up the sixth congressional district now.”

Several other House Republicans also announced that they would not be seeking re-election in 2018. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) announced their retirements last week. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) announced this week that they would be stepping down next year.

Cline, a local attorney who grew up in the area, previously worked as a top aide to Goodlatte. He has also served as House Chairman of the Conservative Caucus and has an A+ rating from the NRA.

In his statement, Cline said that, if elected, he would work to represent the interests of his constituents. He also emphasized the need for a strong conservative to fill Virginia’s 6th Congressional seat in Washington.

“We should all thank [Goodlatte] for his service to the Commonwealth and our country,” Cline said. “But we can’t take this seat for granted. The Democrats are emboldened by recent victories and we can’t allow them to seize this seat for Nancy Pelosi.”