SINCE THE 2007 ELECTIONS, when they gained a narrow majority in the upper house of Virginia’s General Assembly, Senate Democrats have been the grown-ups in Richmond. The role was forced on them by House Republicans, who have sent over waves of reckless legislation.
Senate Democrats defeated a House attempt to force Virginia colleges and universities to allow students and faculty to carry guns on campus and a bill to repeal the state’s 20-year-old law limiting individuals to one handgun purchase a month. They killed legislation targeting illegal immigrants that would have plunged Virginia into the same bitter debates and federal litigation that have ensnared Arizona and Alabama. They rejected a bill that would have outlawed abortion in Virginia by granting fetuses legal rights and another that would have forced welfare recipients to undergo drug screenings. They halted Republican attempts to raid scarce funds for public schools and colleges.
All that is cause for worry about the consequences of a GOP takeover of the Senate in statewide elections Nov. 8. So is the pledge that many (though not all) Republican candidates have taken to oppose any new taxes, a stance that would condemn Northern Virginia to a future of steadily worsening traffic gridlock.
Northern Virginia has just one sitting Republican senator, which suggests the region’s voters have found the latest generation of Republicans too extreme, partisan or divorced from state and local issues. Unfortunately, in our view, that remains the case in most of the Senate races. The following candidates, listed in bold type, are our picks. (To determine your district and candidates, go to https://www.voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/PublicSite/Public/FT2/PublicLookup.aspx and click on “My Ballot.”)
DISTRICT 13: Before Republican Richard H. “Dick” Black lost his bid for reelection to the House of Delegates in 2005, he was known as one of the legislature’s most over-the-top ideologues, notorious for such stunts as sending plastic fetuses to lawmakers (in the context of the abortion debate) and rants against homosexuals. Even fellow Republicans distanced themselves from his antics. Now he’s running in a newly drawn district that includes parts of Prince William and Loudoun counties. A vastly better choice is Democrat J. Shawn Mitchell, a cogent, serious-minded businessman who has common-sense proposals for encouraging banks to lend to small businesses and helping state universities to monetize their biotech research.
DISTRICT 27: Jill Holtzman Vogel, the Republican incumbent in this district, which includes Loudoun County, is a lawyer with an impressive command of state and local issues, zest for her work and a record of achievement that includes expanding access to higher education. We disagree with some of her initiatives, such as leading Virginia’s legislative attack on the Obama health-care law. But Ms. Vogel remains a thoughtful lawmaker and a better bet than Democratic challenger Shaun D. Broy, a political novice.