Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: Sept. 22, 1952, Holyoke, MA .
Education: Bates Col., B.A. 1974, Washington & Lee Law Schl., J.D. 1977.
Religion: Christian Scientist.
Family: Married (Maryellen); 2 children.
Professional Career: Dist. dir., U.S. Rep. Caldwell Butler, 1977–79; Practicing atty., 1979–92.
The congressman from the 6th District is Bob Goodlatte, a Republican first elected in 1992. Goodlatte grew up in Massachusetts, the son of a Friendly’s ice cream store manager and a part-time retail clerk. He attended Bates College in Maine, where he was president of the College Republicans, and then went on to law school at Washington & Lee. After college, he got a job on the staff of Republican U.S. Rep. Caldwell Butler of Roanoke. Goodlatte practiced law in Roanoke and stayed active in politics. In 1992, when Democrat Jim Olin retired, Goodlatte was nominated by the Republican convention to run for the seat and won the general election 60%-40%.
|Bob Goodlatte (R)||192,350||(62%)||($1,996,993)|
|Sam Rasoul (D)||114,367||(37%)||($382,473)|
|Bob Goodlatte (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (75%), 2004 (97%), 2002 (97%), 2000 (100%), 1998 (69%), 1996 (67%), 1994 (100%), 1992 (60%)
Goodlatte has a conservative voting record, and is best known for his work on the House Agriculture Committee, which he chaired when Republicans were in the majority. The agriculture in his district, as he notes, is “free-market oriented: poultry, livestock, orchards. It gives me a pretty free hand to work with all the different regions of the country.” In the minority, he worked closely with committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., to enact the new farm bill in 2008, serving as the committee’s informal liaison to the White House. He helped to broker a compromise on country-of-origin labeling of meat in the bill. In 2008, he joined 50 other House Republicans in urging the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce ethanol production requirements. “I support the development and use of alternative fuels. However, we cannot allow government mandates to pick winners and losers,” he said. In 2004, he worked with other tobacco state lawmakers to successfully steer to passage the tobacco buyout program—specifically, the end of Depression-era quotas and price supports—while also blocking the Senate’s attempt to make the buyout conditional on Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco. On another issue, he met major protests, including some at home, when he objected to a bill designed to stop the slaughter of horses. He argued that it would produce increased horse abuse and neglect, but the House passed the bill in 2006. Term limits imposed by Republican Conference rules forced him to give up his leadership position on the committee in 2009.
Goodlatte’s other locus of activity is the Judiciary Committee. In 2003, he sponsored the House-passed bill to limit class-action lawsuits against tobacco companies, gun makers and other companies, and a separate bill to give federal courts jurisdiction over large class-action suits. In response to conservatives’ complaints over federal court decisions that cite legal rulings of other nations, he sponsored a bill stating that judicial decisions should not be based on foreign precedents.
With 9th District Democrat Rick Boucher of Virginia, Goodlatte has been a House leader on technology issues and has chaired the GOP’s High-Tech Working Group. He supports a permanent ban on Internet taxes, and failing to achieve that goal in 2007, he helped to broker an agreement for a four-year prohibition. Goodlatte sponsored the Communications Decency Act, allowing censorship of obscene material on the Internet, which was overturned by the Supreme Court. To combat spyware software that tracks users’ activities and identifying information, he won House passage of his “I-SPY Prevention Act” to criminalize the installation of such software without the owner’s approval. In 2009, Goodlatte co-sponsored a bill to require presidential candidates to make their birth certificates public. Detractors said the legislation’s sole purpose was to feed unsubstantiated theories that Democratic President Barack Obama was not born the United States and therefore not eligible to serve as president.
Goodlatte has been consistently reelected without difficulty, and encountered no problem when he abandoned in 2002 his pledge to serve no more than 12 years. In 2008, he faced businessman Sam Rasoul, who was 26 and Goodlatte’s first Democratic challenger since 1998. Goodlatte won 62%-37%.