Bentivolio aide quits to run for Wolf's seat

Top Hill staffer Rob Wasinger (R) has resigned as chief of staff for Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) to run for retiring Rep. Frank Wolf's (R-Va.) seat, he tells The Hill.

Wasinger is a longtime Republican operative and social conservative activist who ran then-Sen. Sam Brownback's (R-Kan.) 2008 presidential campaign and was a senior adviser on Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's (R) 2012 campaign.

In his announcement, he makes it clear he'll run to the right of the current Republican front-runner, Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock, another longtime GOP operative with deep Washington ties.

"I have decided to run for Congress because I cannot sit idly by while I watch bought-and-paid-for politicians argue over who can steer us over the cliff first," he said in a statement on his website.

"It's time for the Republican Party to be the party of conservatism again. We must be the party of ideas. We can change the direction of the country, but only if we elect principled candidates who recognize the problems we face and are willing to do the right thing. It is not too late to pass down to our children a nation that is better off than when we received it from our parents," he continued.

This isn't Wasinger's first run for Congress — he finished a distant fourth in a run for an open seat in his home state of Kansas in 2010, though he amassed $800,000 for that bid. He's lived in Northern Virginia for two decades.

Comstock will be tough to beat. She has raised more than $300,000 in her first four weeks as a candidate and has endorsements from Mitt Romney, whom she worked for in 2012, as well as conservative radio host Mark Levin, Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips and the conservative groups Citizens United and The American Conservative Union.

Some other Republicans are seriously considering a bid as well, meaning the April 28 party-run primary election could get very crowded.

Democrats are hopeful they can compete for the slightly Republican-leaning state, which Romney won by 1 percentage point in 2012.