Republican James Myles came out on top May 7 in the 11th District firehouse primary and now will face a more arduous struggle: trying to unseat seven-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) in the Nov. 8 election.
“I’m just very unhappy with the direction our country and our district have been going,” said Myles, a first-time candidate. “It’s time to step up. We all need to get involved to change the course, the direction.”
Myles secured the Republican nominating by defeating candidates Joe Babb, Barbara Banks, Matthew Chappell and Manga Anantatmula in four rounds of ranked-choice voting. He led the pack in each round and emerged with a final tally of 59.2 percent of the vote to Anantatmula’s 40.8 percent.
In a statement accompanying the primary results, GOP 11th Congressional District chairman Mike Ginsberg said Myles has spent his entire career in public service and is “uniquely positioned” to address inflation, economic insecurity and other challenges facing the district’s residents.
Myles will have an uphill climb this fall. Connolly, who previously served as Providence District supervisor and Board of Supervisors chairman, first was elected to the 11th District seat in 2008 and has held it ever since.
(The Sun Gazette e-mailed Connolly’s office for comments on the 11th District race, but received no response.)
Myles said Connolly follows a far-left Democratic agenda and supports “a lot of radical legislation” such as the Build Back Better initiative, as well as equity and anti-police bills.
“I just think Gerry Connolly is on the wrong side of these issues,” he said.
Born in Essexville, Mich., near Bay City, Myles graduated from Central Michigan University in 1982 with a degree in political science. In 1993, he earned a law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law.
Myles served in the U.S. Air Force from 1982 to 1990. He was a pilot, clocked more than 2,100 flight and instructor hours, and was a master instructor on the T-37 jet training aircraft.
“It was a challenging experience. I really enjoyed it,” said Myles, who noted that all 22 of his students went on to fly T-38 aircraft, which was unusual in a program with a high washout rate. Myles also flew T-38, AT-38 and A-10 “Warthog” planes.
Myles retired last December after spending more than a decade as a U.S. administrative law judge. He previously was a Republican staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. Myles also worked for the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals.
He and his wife, Debra, moved to Burke from San Diego in 2004. They have two sons, Luke and Jacob.
Myles is focusing his campaign on these issues:
• Crime: Myles favors fully funding police and opposes what he called the “revolving door” of dangerous criminals being set free by some prosecutors.
• Immigration: Myles wants to finish the border wall with Mexico, penalize employers who hire illegal workers and revisit policies on birthright citizenship.
But he also seeks to provide a path for people to obtain U.S. citizenship by registering with the government first, returning to their countries of origin so they could be vetted properly and then coming back to the United States to begin the citizenship process.
• Education: Myles, who has a child in Fairfax County Public Schools, opposes “indoctrination in the progressive movement and sexualization of everything in our schools” and said his office would set up an ombudsman whom parents could contact directly about matters concerning their children’s schools.
“The parents, to me, have no voice right now,” he said. “The school boards and the administrators shut off the parents, and that needs to change.”
“We’ve seen the best test scores drop and we’ve seen the damage that has been done to our children with these COVID masks and remote learning,” he said. “The children all suffered and we have to make sure that never happens again.”
• Federal spending: Myles expressed concern about the federal debt and omnibus stimulus bills that were “loaded with wasteful pork spending” and provided minimal accountability.
Myles said he is running in opposition to “failed” Democratic policies that engender too much government, reduce freedom and run up debts for future generations.
“There’s no place that Democrats are running where there’s good. It’s all bad and all they do it blame other people. They blame Putin or Trump or whatever because their policies fail.”
The 11th District are newly reconfigured is entirely located within Fairfax County (other portions of the county are in the 8th and 10th districts). Previously, the 11th also included portions of Prince William County.