Warren Barry received three questionnaires this week. Glady's Keating got what she said was a threatening one over the weekend, and George M. Joseph has responded to 22 with a total of 285 questions.
Northern Virginia candidates for the House of Delegates, such as Barry, Keating and Joseph, are being deluged like never before with questionnaires from individuals and groups wanting to know their positions on issues.
"It's just like rain," said Larry Pratt, a Republican candidate in southern Fairfax County.
The candidates for the House of Delegates said they have variously received between 15 and 40 different questionnaires and for some candidates the issue has become not the issues on the questionnaires but the large number of questionnaires.
Many candidates say they find it almost impossible to respond to each questionnaire. Some discard questionnaires that are from groups that they know will not support them or ask what they feel are irresponsible questions. But most candidates say they respond to questionnaires from groups or individuals who plan to make the responses available to the public.
"Anyone who has a special interest sends you one," said seven-term incumbent Democratic Del. Dorothy S. McDiarmid, who is running for reelection in the 18th House District.
The questionnaires have come from nurses, builders, librarians, antiabortionists, proabortionists, teachers, college professors, women's groups, prouunion groups, antiunion groups, doctors, consumer groups, pro-ERA groups, anti-ERA groups, beer and wine wholesalers and The Washington Post, among others.
The questions range from the simple yes or no (Do you favor the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment?) to the complex (if you were appointed to a committee charged with evaluating the contributions of Northern Virginia Community College to the citizens of Northern Virginia, what questions would you want to ask the college?).
Other questions include: If elected: Will you lower our taxes through less government? Will you vote to legalize the manufacture, sale and use of laetrile? Will you memoralize Congress to get us out of the U.N. and get the U.N. out of the country?
Some questions, the candidates say, have little to do with Virginia or the legislation introduced in the state General Assembly.
McDiarmid, a staunch advocate of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, said she received a questionnaire from "a bunch of women from Norfolk who wanted me to stop the ERA. Of course, I'm not going to answer that one."
"If it's from a group that I figure would likely support me, I send it right back," Pratt said. "If not, I don't . . . My time is too precious."
Pratt, who has responded to few questionnaires, said "I would rather be out meeting people than filling out questionnaires."
Keating, a democratic candidate in southern Fairfax County, said she received a "threatening" questionnaire in the mail last weekend. She said the questionaire was from an antiabortion group that wanted to know her position on abortion.
Attached to the questionnaire, Keating said, was the message, "If we do not hear from you by Sept. 26th, we will assume that you support the status quo, i.e. abortion on demand until the day of birth."
Sponsors of the various questionnaires have very little sympathy for the candidates.
Robert Johnson, executive vice president of the Northern Virginia Builders Association, said his organization sends out a questionnaire each election to determine the candidates' views on issues that affect builders. "People have a very acute interest in various candidates' positions," he said.
Johnson said he has received 38 responses to the 43 questionnaires that he sent to candidates. He said the plans to distribute the results of the questionnaires to members of the association, which represents an industry with 30,000 workers.
Not all candidates are upset about the largee number of questionnaires they are receiving.
Barry, a Republican who is running for re-election to his fifth term in the House of Delegates, said normally he receives about 15 questionnaires, but this year he has received 40.
"I got no complaints about them," he said.
Joseph, a Republican candidate in Arlington, agrees. "I'm delighted," he said. "The people want to know where you stand," said Joseph, who put out a press release three weeks ago telling voters that he had responded to 173 questions on 13 separate questionnaires.