ROANOKE, Va.—When Republicans in western Virginia head to the polls on June 12th, the U.S. Senate race won't provide the only primary battle. 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte also has opposition this year, from Karen Kwiatkowski
This is the first time since Goodlatte first ran for Congress in 1992, that he has had opposition within his own party. Karen Kwiatkowski is an Air Force veteran, college instructor and Shenandoah County cattle farmer. She's waging an uphill battle against an established incumbent, but believes dissatisfaction with the current Congress has opened a door for her campaign.
For Goodlatte the last two years have included a focus on federal spending, and the action he says is needed to bring it under control. That, he says, is a critical issue in this campaign, along with the repeal of Obama administration initiatives he opposes, including health care reform.
"What I bring to Washington is the ability to fight for lower taxes, less government regulation, and less government spending," Goodlatte said in an interview. "I've always been a fiscal hawk and I've also been very strong in standing up for people's rights."
Kwiatkowski sees it differently. "We've been kicking the can for at least 20 years," Kwiatkowski told WDBJ7 in a recent interview. "Bob Goodlatte's one of the key can kickers, and it's got to stop."
On the issue of federal spending, Kwiatkowski says Goodlatte's record and his rhetoric aren't in sync. "Bob Goodlatte talks about, Oh I think the debt is bad," Kwiatkowski said. "13 times in a row he's voted to raise the debt ceiling. Under Bush 10 times. Three times under Obama. He votes to borrow more money. Well he can't have it both ways."
Goodlatte says he has always voted for the tightest budget proposal, and advocated for a balanced budget amendment. He says recognition from the National Taxpayers Union shows exactly where he stands. "They rate members of Congress not based upon 10 issues or 15 issues, but on every single issue that we vote on related to spending and taxes," he said. "And the fact that they've given me the highest rating, an A rating, the only A rating of any member of Congress from Virginia I think speaks to my conservative credentials and my fiscal responsibility."