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1st District: Wittman values relationships

When he's not roaming the halls of Congress or listening to voters in his district, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, enjoys a good hunting trip. He loads up his pickup truck with one of his yellow labs and heads to a favorite spot near his home in the town of Montross, looking for water fowl or deer.

He's built strong relationships with some of his colleagues in the House of Representatives who are also sportsmen, notably GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who has joined him on a few hunting trips on the Northern Neck.

Wittman, 53, has served in the House of Representatives since 2007, when he won a special election to replace the late JoAnn Davis. He is seeking re-election against Fredericksburg Democrat Adam Cook and Independent Green Party member Glenda Gail Parker in the 1st Congressional District.

Wittman was first elected to public office in 1986, serving on the Montross Town Council. He later served as mayor and on the county Board of Supervisors. He served a single term in the General Assembly in the House of Delegates. Wittman also worked for years at the Virginia Health Department's Division of Shellfish Sanitation, where he oversaw field operations.

"He's a very quick learner," said Bob Croonenberghs, who was Wittman's boss at the time. "He could pick up and retain information very quickly. He was a quick study."

Wittman sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources.

Wittman's record in Congress has been conservative. He opposed the bank bailouts passed in 2008 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"I got a call from President Bush at the time who said, 'I really need you to vote for this,'" Wittman said. He didn't give in. "I didn't see that as something that was a proper public policy."

When he was first elected to Congress, Wittman made a point to visit each member of the House inside their office to get acquainted with them. He said it makes a difference with breaking partisan gridlock.

"I believe that is the key to being effective and getting things done without compromising on principles," Wittman said. "As a local official, I could not come home at night without hearing from my neighbor about the job I did that day, and I bring that same mindset with me every day as I serve the 1st District."

Name: Rob Wittman

Age: 53

Website: http://www.robwittman.com

Occupation: Environmental Health Specialist

Education: Ph.D. in public policy and administration from Virginia Commonwealth University; Master of Public Health Degree in health policy and administration from the University of North Carolina; Bachelor of Science in biology from Virginia Tech.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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