It's too early to say whether Democrats or Republicans will emerge victorious this fall, but we already can declare a winner: Craig Fritsche, president of Tart Lumber in Sterling, Va. And, by extension, all of construction supply.

LBM operations rarely have received as much TV coverage as they did Sept. 23 when Republican Congressional leaders made Tart Lumber the backdrop for a news conference in which they unveiled their agenda for the November elections and the rest of this legislative year. Analysts said Tart Lumber was to the 2010 GOP what the steps of the Capitol were to the party in 1994 when it unveiled the "Contract With America" that helped Republicans take control of Congress.

HIGH PROFILE: Republican Congressional leaders used Tart Lumber of Sterling, Va., as the backdrop for presenting their agenda for the fall election season and beyond. Tart president Craig Fritsche, left, sat next to House Minority Leader John Boehner at the event, along with a fellow local business leader, Tabetha A. Baume-Chandler.
AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite HIGH PROFILE: Republican Congressional leaders used Tart Lumber of Sterling, Va., as the backdrop for presenting their agenda for the fall election season and beyond. Tart president Craig Fritsche, left, sat next to House Minority Leader John Boehner at the event, along with a fellow local business leader, Tabetha A. Baume-Chandler.

Tart appears to have been chosen in large part because its president, Craig Fritsche, emerged in the previous month as an oft-quoted small-business everyman who could speak out eloquently in favor of extending the tax cuts that are slated to expire this year unless Congress and President Barack Obama extend them. Democratic Congressional leaders favor letting the tax cuts expire in January for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year, but Fritsche argued–as Republicans do–that the tax cuts should be extended for everyone.
Fritsche first gained attention through his participation in a Capitol Hill news conference at which he spoke as a member of the National Federation of Independent Business. That led in turn to stories on the tax issue in which he was quoted by groups as diverse as Fox News and National Public Radio (NPR).

Those stories focused on tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 that will expire in January unless Congress renews them. According to an AP summary, if the cuts expire, the bottom rate for income taxes would rise to 15% from the current 10% while the top rate would climb to 39.6% from 35%. In addition, the tax rate on capital gains would return to 20% from its current 15% rate, taxes on dividends would rise to 39.6% from 15%, and the federal estate tax would return.

In the NPR story, Fritsche said he hasn't made enough money in the past couple of years to be taxed at the top rate. But he said Democrats are wrong to let tax cuts expire for any small business that would make that much money.

"They don't realize we're not out buying boats," he said in the interview regarding the Democrats. "We're not out buying second homes. We're plowing that money back into the business and creating jobs."