After the end-of-summer barbecues, after dropping off the kids on the first day of school, after the predictably nightmare traffic of the first workday in September, there’s something else residents of Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax counties have to check off their to-do lists.
There’s a special election Tuesday to fill a vacant seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, an opening brought about by the resignation, effective Friday, of Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria) after an extramarital affair.
The three men seeking to succeed him are nervous that the election will slip the minds of the 62,777 voters who live in House District 45, which is made up primarily of eastern Alexandria; Arlington’s Fairlington, Shirlington, Abingdon and Aurora Hills neighborhoods; and the Belle View and Huntington areas of Fairfax.
“Running a get-out-the-vote effort on Labor Day weekend has no track record,” said Rob Krupicka, the Democratic candidate and a member of the Alexandria City Council for nine years. He will face Republican Tim McGhee and Libertarian Justin Malkin after an abbreviated race without debates or candidate forums. “It’s a pretty tough day to have voting happen,” Krupicka said.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) scheduled the election just over a month ago, opting for a September vote because another special election Tuesday, this one in Norfolk, will result in another vacancy in the General Assembly. Del. Kenneth Cooper Alexander (D-Norfolk) is running unopposed for the seat of the late Sen. Yvonne B. Miller (D), who died July 3.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign finance reports in the commonwealth, Krupicka has raised more than $70,000, compared with McGhee’s $5,745 and Malkin’s $9,670, most of which is self-funded.
McGhee lost by an almost 2-to-1 ratio in November in a state Senate race against Democrat Adam P. Ebbin. This is Malkin’s first run for elective office. They are both Alexandria residents.
Krupicka, 41, who is emphasizing his record of community involvement and progressive values, said there are ideological differences among the candidates.
“A large number of people are very concerned about the extreme social efforts coming out of Richmond,” Krupicka said, noting controversies over women’s health and gay rights in the Republican-controlled legislature. “I’m pretty confident that the big issues we’re going to tackle in Richmond are made for me. I’m in a position where I can immediately contribute to that discussion.”
Krupicka, who is also a member of the Virginia Board of Education, said that too many schools are still not performing as they should and that he would work to improve them. The state should also expand Medicaid and address the region’s transportation and infrastructure needs, he said.
McGhee, 35, who describes himself in his LinkedIn profile as an “American with the heart of a Thessalonian, the soul of a Roman, the mind of a Berean, and the strength of a Colossian,” runs his own Web-design and -hosting firm and has worked as a database administrator for The Falls Church and Cherrydale Baptist Church.
He said he is putting health care first in his campaign. He opposes the federal Affordable Care Act, contending that “a data-driven bureaucracy [will intrude] into the doctor-patient relationship.” He supports the General Assembly’s decision this year to tighten regulations on Virginia abortion clinics and its approval of legislation that requires women seeking abortions to get an ultrasound (a provision that originally would have required a transvaginal probe).
Those who oppose the ultrasound requirement “should consider the nature of the other instruments that follow” in an abortion, McGhee said in an interview.
McGhee also wants Virginia to reform its child-support and custody laws. He would require, for instance, an immediate stop to child-support payments if a child is removed from the custodial parent’s home.
Malkin, 41, a credit analyst, positions himself as socially tolerant and fiscally responsible and says his overriding principle is freedom. Most voters are telling him that the biggest issues are education and transportation, but Malkin said he wants to focus on the bigger picture.
“I see things in terms of liberty,” he said.
Although Malkin wants society to move toward the libertarian ideal of limited laws and government rules, he said he would have to make practical choices that “move toward more freedom, as long as the needle is moving in the right direction.”
Malkin advocates minimal taxes, same-sex marriage rights, elimination of teacher tenure, less gun control, and decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs. He called abortion “the only complex issue that we as a people face.”
Describing himself as essentially pro-choice, he said abortions should be limited to the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, after which the fetus should be considered a person with a right to life.
“From a practical standpoint, 95 percent of abortions occur within the first 13 weeks,” Malkin said. “Thirteen weeks seems reasonable to me.”
The seat represents a strongly Democratic district, but when turnout dips below 10 percent, as area voter registrars say is possible, it becomes more difficult to predict the outcome.
The term expires in January 2014.