Veterans protested outside of Rep. Gerry Connolly's (D-VA) office last Thursday and Friday over comments the incumbent Democrat made insinuating his Republican challenger--former Green Beret Republican Chris Perkins--had not put in the requisite "sweat equity" in getting to know the district while Perkins was serving the country in various national security capacities.
Veteran activists, many of whom were with Americans Respecting Military Service (ARMS), and others from Northern Virginia called on Connolly to apologize for his remarks.
Curt Herrick, a retired Colonel who is a spokesman for the Veterans group, said Connolly is a "political poser" who is "pretending to represent the heavily military and veteran 11th congressional district."
At a Springfield, Virginia Chamber of Commerce event in October, Connolly suggested that Perkins had not put in the "sweat equity" into the district like Connolly had.
"We Veterans are appalled at this slanted, anti-American rhetoric and demand that Rep. Connolly apologize to all veterans," Herrick said. "Voters are encouraged to hold Connolly accountable for his disparaging comments again those who put their lives in harm’s way for America’s freedom."
The group accused Connolly, who represents Virginia's 11th Congressional District, of comparing his "ineffectual two terms in Congress and service on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to the 25-year service career" of Perkins. It included veterans from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, and also drew non-veteran supporters, like Kassandra Smith of Annandale, Virginia. Protestors held up Gadsden flags and signs such as "Connolly Declares War on Vets" and "Hey Connolly! Challenge My Service To My Face."
Smith said she was "extremely concerned" that Connolly insinuated "that serving on a neighborhood board and county board are more important than placing yourself in harms’ way for the entire country."
"I don’t want someone who disrespects those who served and the families who gave up so much to represent me," Smith said.
Retired Air Force Colonel Denny d’Alelio said he wanted Connolly to know his comments "are insulting, demeaning, and unworthy of his office."
"The comments show profound disrespect for the thousands of the families of Veterans who are his constituents," he said. "What’s more, Connolly voted for the defense cuts before he started this political posturing in a lost effort to pretend to stop sequestration. It’s too little, too late. You’ve hurt our district enough.”
Photos courtesy Kassandra Smith