For the past two years, I was the author of a website tracking Virginia’s Sixth District Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte. As a partisan liberal Democrat I had very little good to say about him, but I strove to be as accurate as possible.
As Goodlatte’s 26 years in Congress end today, I am retiring Goodlatte Watch and launching this website to track his successor, the new Sixth District Republican Congressman Ben Cline– with the same objective and the same commitment to accuracy.
Although I don’t expect to have much good to say about Cline either (he is welcome to surprise me), I want to start here with a compliment. In December he held open meetings with his future constituents in four cities that he failed to carry when he was elected in November– Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington and Roanoke. This kind of in-person outreach, allowing for give and take, is a refreshing contrast to Goodlatte’s refusal to hold any such meetings since 2013. I only hope Cline continues to hold such events regularly throughout the Sixth District and to schedule them at times convenient to the largest number of people (not just on weekday mornings and afternoons, as he did in December).
I also welcome his stated commitment to bipartisanship. I hope this carries over into a willingness to compromise on divisive issues facing the nation– even when it means defying the leaders of his own party.
On the other hand I was not reassured by an interview he did last month with radio talk show host John Fredericks in which his rightwing, pro-Trump views were on full display. He was more eager to trash Nancy Pelosi (whom he disparaged repeatedly) than he was to lay out any sort of positive agenda to help the people of the Sixth District. When he did talk about what he wanted to accomplish, it was mostly in terms of cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood unrelated to abortions, slashing environmental protections and shutting down certain government agencies “permanently.”
I sent Cline an email weeks ago asking which government agencies he wants to do away with, but have yet to get a reply. If by some chance I hear back from him, I will be pleased to share his response with the readers of Cline Watch.
I welcome any ideas, tips or questions.