And what does he think he’s doing challenging Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf for the Virginia 10th District Republican nomination?
Vern McKinley, Nona McKinley and Dick Heller
10th District Republican primary candidate Vern McKinley (center) with Dick Heller, plaintiff in District of Columbia v. Heller, and McKinley’s wife, Nona, at the April, 2008 Nation’s Gun Show in Chantilly.

Folks, I am taking Vern McKinley very seriously because anything can happen in a publicly invisible election as the June 10 GOP primary certainly will be – and Vern has a valid message. If he gets a scintilla of the money he needs to get that message out, Frank Wolf will be toast, and we may get a true citizen-legislator representing us in the House of Representatives.

It is not insignificant that Dick Heller, plaintiff in DC v Heller – the case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court which may have an immense impact on 2nd Amendment policies throughout the nation – spent most of a weekend last month visiting with attendees at the Nation’s Gun Show event in Chantilly … in the general vicinity of Vern McKinley’s booth. Heller was not campaigning, but there was a clear common interest between McKinley’s supporters and Heller, who might understandably have taken offense at Frank Wolf’s refusal to support the effort by Virgil Goode to overturn DC’s gun ban.

Prior to meeting him at the gun show, my only familiarity with Vern McKinley was based on a local Republican event where he addressed the local committee, and my impression was that Vern speaks like a regular guy – not a “political orator.” For me, this is not a negative, because I am more and more interested in the notion that our government is supposed to be one where regular citizens make the decisions. Furthermore, our current political leadership in America is a minefield of “orators” whose heads are firmly implanted where the sun don’t shine.

Vern carries a well-worn copy of the U.S. Constitution in his jacket pocket, and in our conversation he noted first of all that “home rule doesn’t override the Second Amendment.”

But his disagreements with Frank Wolf extend far beyond the issue of gun rights.

Vern is an attorney whose focus is on macroeconomics, advising a client base of international financial institutions. While home from business travel before the 2006 elections, he happened to see a debate between Frank Wolf and Democratic challenger Judy Feder. In the following months, Vern did some online research at Vote Smart and found he only agreed with Frank on 20-25% of his votes.

Vern’s assessment: “It’s an urban legend that Frank Wolf is a good conservative.”

Frank Wolf’s failure to sponsor Duncan Hunter’s Life At Conception Act was a key indictment of the 10th District congressman. But Frank Wolf also opposed the Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006 which was a response to the Supreme Court’s reviled Kelo decision.

In addition, a search of the OMB database revealed that Frank Wolf was responsible for roughly 50 earmarks costing $50 million. Vern queried Frank Wolf’s office for clarification on these expenses and received no response (those of us in Wolf’s district know the congressman is usually extremely efficient at responding to every constituent communication.)

Further research revealed possible connections between earmarks and contributions to Frank Wolf’s campaign. On the whole, Vern said, Frank Wolf appeared a classic example of a once-conservative legislator who had “gone native” after nearly three decades in the halls of power.

Vern McKinley concluded, “If you lose your principles, it’s a lot worse thing than to lose your seat.” And that’s when he decided to run against Frank Wolf.

Everyone who watched the outstanding John Adams series on HBO last month will appreciate the impetus to return to the original idea that our government was envisioned as an exercise in service rather than a “profession.” This is what Vern McKinley represents.

Vern has picked up an assortment of supporters, including the Virginia Gun Owners Coalition.

He is also a favorite among the Ron Paul supporters.

On the latter, Vern notes he was a “Ron Paul” Republican before Ron Paul was on anyone’s radar. Vern decided to challenge Frank Wolf before Ron Paul announced his candidacy for president.

On the question of illegal immigration, Vern has the uniquely informed perspective of one who has experienced the mechanics of the issue firsthand: His wife, Nona, is Armenian, and the McKinley’s have spent years traversing the required U.S. bureaucratic obstacles to gain her citizenship. I did not perceive an abundance of congeniality in the McKinley household for giving special status to those who cut in line, while so many are going through the process to enter the U.S. legally. I would categorize the McKinley’s as supporters of the rule of law.

Go here to contribute to Vern McKinley’s campaign.

Much more on Vern McKinley here.

Interviews with Vern McKinley here.