The loss by Rick Boucher (above) to Morgan Griffith in the 9th District of Virginia is especially serious if you care anything about the future of the Internet specifically and technology in general.
Boucher was a member of the Energy/Commerce Committee (chairman of the subcommittee on telecommunications) and the important Judiciary Committee. His work on keeping the Internet free and open has been vital and his high level of intellect has been especially crucial because of the complexity of various issues he's worked on.
Republicans did not target Boucher's seat because they wanted Morgan Griffith there. Boucher had become an important (though soft-spoken) voice regarding the technology industry and was enormously influential in a number of areas.
His work on the cap and trade bill--which was distorted by the Republicans in the campaign as a "job killer"--was important in getting something the coal companies could live with, though it was not nearly as good an environmental bill as it should have been. Without Boucher, a Southern conservative, the bill would have been far closer to what the EPA wanted and what would have been to coal's detriment and the environment's benefit.
Boucher, for 28 years, has been a man who could work with Republicans as readily as he worked with Democrats. He and Republican 6th District Representative Bob Goodlatte were often called "the mountain technology boys" because they were so influential in that area. Don't expect Griffith to do anything but watch and walk with a pompous swagger. His intellectual capacity, put in a room with Boucher's is the light that went out in the corner lamp.
Politico quoted Bruce Mehlman, a partner at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, this morning, thusly: “Boucher is one of the smartest, most engaged members on these issues. He is generally a force for a thoughtful approach. I don’t always agree with him, but you can guarantee he is very judicious and fact-based. He is a constructive force in the mix that generally doesn’t play these issues as a partisan hack.”
According to Boucher’s Web site, he “has long recognized the importance of deploying broadband networks, and for more than 10 years he has encouraged local governments in his Ninth Congressional District to find means to increase access to high speed Internet services. Largely due to his efforts, Southwest Virginia today has one of the most capable broadband networks to be found in rural America.” One just went up, in fact, in the past month.
Boucher has added more than 5,000 jobs into a district that is poor, rural, spread out and not exactly a hot spot for industrial expansion. My guess is that the jobs issue is an area where Griffith will be a dismal failure. I am not aware of any jobs he helped create in his Virginia General Assembly district while a delegate. In fact, I'm not aware of anything he did. I am aware of a lot he blocked that would have been of benefit to the district, but I can't recall a positive (unless you count securing money for the Salem Museum and the Taubman Museum--whose board of directors is seeded with his financial supporters--as a positive).
Point is, the 9th District shot itself in the foot, and not with a .22 rifle. It used a bazooka this time and it will suffer for its own irrationality.