Two campaign letters from Republican candidates in southern Fairfax County's 19th House of Delegates District have generated last-minute controversies before Tuesday's election.

In a brochure mailed to 70,000 households, GOP contender Robert L. Thoburn tells voters that he and Democrat V.L. (Lee) Strang will appear opposite each other on the voting machine ballots and then proceeds to compare their records as if the two are running solely against each other.

"The Difference Is Obvious . . . The Choice Is Yours," the Thoburn flier says.

Thoburn does note in an accompanying two-page letter:

"If you already have another candidate to support, it does not matter, as you may vote for as many as five." However, several critics of the letter, including Strang, said voters are more apt to only read the brochure.

There are five Republicans, five Democrats and an independent in the field.

"That (brochure) is counter-productive to what we have sought to do, which is to clarify to the voters that they have the right to vote for any five of the 11 candidates." said Millard C. Rappleyea, himself a former Republican House candidate in Fairfax and now secretary of the Fairfax County electoral board.

"I'm not trying to give people the impression that there are only two people running," Thoburn said of his brochure.

The second letter mailed by Republican Lawrence W. Pratt to 50,000 households has been attacked as misleading by two of the Democrats in the race, incumbent Dels. Thomas Jefferson Rothrock and Richard J. Saslaw.

The Pratt mailing lists the differences between Pratt and the two incumbents on the issues of a Northern Virginia 4 per cent sales tax on gasoline, the state juvenile code revisions enacted earlier this year and collective bargaining for public employees. Pratt opposes each of the measures, while Rothrock supports all three. Saslaw supports the juvenile code revision and public employee collective bargaining. Two years ago he supported the gas tax, but opposed it last year.

The juvenile code revision, Pratt said in his flyer, "prohibits police from picking up juveniles and taking them home. Now a bench warrant is needed before runaways and gangs can be dealt with."

Rothrock and Saslaw said that actually habitual runaways in his mail-out. He said he is addressing the problem of runaways who have not committed a crime. He said police need a warrant to get these juvenile off the street.