Eight Republican candidates running for the House of Delegates in Fairfax County plan to abide by a campaign ethics code prepared by the county's Fair Campaign Practices Commission despite their own party's refusal to do so.
"I intend to stand by what I signed," said five term-incumbent Vincent F. Callahan Jr., who earlier signed the commission's campaign ethics code. "I think everybody else (the other seven candidates) will follow," he said.
Fair Campaign Commission Chairman Leslie Bryne yesterday said she has received no indication from any of the eight Republicans who signed the commission's code plan that they plant to withdraw from participation in the wake of the county Republican Committee's vote last week to sever its ties with the seven-member commission.
Joseph Ragan, chairman of the county's Republican Committee, has charged that the commission, which has no legal enforcement power, "is a Democratic tool to be used against the Republicans."
Ragan consistently has questioned the commission's authority and makeup. The controversial commission is composed of two Republicans, two Democrats and three Independents.
Ragan charges that Leslie Bryne and the Rev. George E. Taylor - two of the three independents on the commission - actually are Democrats because they have voted in Democratic primaries in the county. He said party loyalists traditionally vote in the primaries.
Taylor and Bryne admit that they have voted in previous county Democratic primaries, but said they have voted for Republicans as well as Democrats in general elections. Taylor said he voted in Republican primaries in New Jersey, where he lived before coming to Fairfax two years ago.
Both said they are independents without regard to partisan politics. "It just seems to be part of a mounting campaign to discredit the commission," Bryne said of Ragan's latest charges.
Michael White, a Republican candidate in the 18th District, said he also is concerned about the commission makeup, but pledged to "adhere to the spirit and letter of the (campaign ethics) code."
The campaign ethics code states that the candidate and his campaign staff, among other things, "shall not use race, creed, sex, age or national origin in any derogatory or misleading manner against any opponent . . . shall not engage in character defamation . . . shall not distort or falsify facts . . . and shall repudiate and denounce support deriving from any individual group . . . which are found to be in violation (of the code)."
"My position has not changed," said two-term incumbent Del. Robert E. Harris. "My personal commitment is that I will sign any fair campaign policy," he said.
However, Harris, who is a member of the state Republican Central Committee, said the commission has become "a touchy issue. If the Party makes a decision to withdraw and you're a bona fide candidate, you have to be a team player."
The Republican candidates interviewed said they do not know exactly what will happen if they have to appear at a commission hearing before the Nov. 8 election.
"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it," said White.
Only two Republican candidates - Robert L. Thoburn and Lawrence D. Pratt - have refused to sign the commission's fair campaign code.