Virginia's lower house

Sunday, October 25, 2009

THE POST began publishing endorsements for this year's contested races for the Virginia House of Delegates in Friday's paper. This is the conclusion of the three-part series; our picks appear below in bold type.

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District 47: Two excellent candidates--Republican Eric Brescia and Democrat Patrick Hope -- are competing for this open seat. Mr. Hope, a health-care lobbyist, has 10 years of experience as a neighborhood activist and even longer expertise involving Medicaid and mental health issues. By contrast, Mr. Brescia, an economist who's just 24, is a relative newcomer. However, he is exactly what the Republicans need in Northern Virginia: an independent-minded thinker who has fresh and specific ideas for how to save money in health care and make government work better. A Green Party candidate, Joshua F. Ruebner, has a long record of civic engagement but has not mounted a serious campaign.

District 48: Robert H. Brink, the Democratic incumbent, has held this seat for a decade, and in that time he's barely faced a serious challenge. This year he has one in the form of Republican Aaron Ringel, a bright young combat veteran of the war in Iraq who works for a defense contractor. Mr. Brink is a competent legislator but he has opposed widening Interstate 66. That wins points with some homeowners who'd be directly affected but does little for the tens of thousands of commuters who suffer that road daily. Mr. Ringel takes a broader regional view of that issue.

District 50: The incumbent, Republican Jackson H. Miller, is a Prince William County police officer who won election two years ago mainly by insisting he'd be tough on illegal immigrants. Once in Richmond, he mostly dropped the subject and, showing a moderate streak, focused on other issues. His opponent, Democrat Jeanette M. Rishell, is a smart civic activist who is more likely to be effective in the upcoming funding battles for education and transportation.

District 51: Paul F. Nichols, a Democrat, is a freshman incumbent. A plain-spoken lawyer and small-business owner, he has pressed for extending Metro to Prince William. He's a better bet than his Republican opponent, Richard L. Anderson, a recently retired Air Force officer.

District 52: The Democratic candidate for this open seat, Luke Torian, is the minister of a church whose membership and civic engagement has blossomed under his leadership. That has given Mr. Torian broad experience with immigrants, pregnant teens and low-income families and would give him a valuable perspective as a state lawmaker. The Republican candidate, Rafael Lopez, is a decent former member of the Dumfries Town Council, but he hardly offers fresh thinking.

District 53: James M. Scott, a Democrat who has served his community in local and state elective office for three decades, is a solid lawmaker who's done good work on affordable housing and telecommunting. He faces only nominal opposition from Republican Christopher Merola, a media consultant with no significant community involvement.

District 67: Chuck Caputo, a Democrat widely respected for his expertise on education and his legislative know-how, is the longtime incumbent in this district, which has experienced explosive growth. Mr. Caputo is a sane, sober lawmaker who has pushed important road projects in his district and drafted bills to help schools, ease traffic and promote new energy sources. That should earn him a new term in office, even though he faces he faces serious competition from Republican James M. LeMunyon, a creative corporate executive who has thought seriously about reforming government.

District 86: Thomas D. Rust, the incumbent, is one of the more effective lawmakers in the General Assembly, a pro-business Republican who has also gained backing for some of his initiatives from environmentalists. Mr. Rust has enacted important legislation that will ease the way for more toll roads to be built, and he's played a constructive, responsible role in securing funding for education and other priorities that many in his own party opposed. His Democratic opponent, Stevens Miller, is a capable lawyer who's served for two years on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

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