While the Virginia Senate, for the second straight day, was voting down his bill permitting free abortions for the indigent, Del. Warren G. Stambaugh (D-Arlington) sat at his desk in the almost-empty chamber reading the morning newspaper.
"Are you reading what they did to you yesterday in the Senate?" a passing delegate asked.
"No," Stambaugh said, "I'm reading about Kentucky Wildcats."
Stambaugh needed all the distraction he could find - and the sports pages, with stories about his home state's tournament-bound basketball team, were a good place to begin. "And after I finish the sports pages," he said, "I'm going to read the comics."
The day before, the 33-year-old delegate had suffered the two biggest defeats of his three-term career in the House. His abortion bill, after surviving amendments that would have considerably restricted it, was turned down in the Senate, 20 to 18, and the Northern Virginia sales tax bill he was managing on the House floor failed by a single vote get the majority it needed.
As the 1978 session of the Virginia General Assembly came to an end yesterday, Stambaugh had a lot of company that also experienced the agony of defeat.
There was Del. Thomas J. Michie Jr. (D-Charlottesville), whose package of annexation bills, aimed at ending the 75-years-old battle between the state's cities and counties, disintegrated when one key measure was narrowly rejected in a committee.
There was Sen. William B. Hopkins (D-Roanoke), most of whose ambitious package of state government reorganization bills was scuttled.
There was Senate Majority Leader Adelrad L. Brault (D-Fairfax), who attempted to take control of local electoral boards away from the political party of the governor's office (now occupied by a Republican) and put it in the hands of the General Assembly (controlled by Democrats). The effort failed when fellow Democrats wouldn't support him in a House committee. Major government roorganization bills that Brault riskily sponsored on behalf of Hopkins also failed.
Not many legislators came to the winner's circle with a big victory. One who did, and perhaps the most prominent of all, was Del. Raymond R. Guest Jr. (R-Warren), the sponsor of the bill to legalize par-mutuel betting in Virginia.
On Friday, from his seat in the back of the House chamber, Guest nervously cast his eyes about the room to make sure all his supporters were present for the final vote in which Senate amendments to the racing bill were being considered.
There were rumors earlier in the day that Northern Virginians who previously had supported the racing bill would defect in retribution for the Tidewater delegation's assault on Northern Virginia's proposed one-cent sales tax increase.
While the bill's chief opponent, Del. Richard R. G. Hobson (D-Alexandria), mounted a last, desperate cratorical assault (he had to be admonished several times by Speaker John Warren Cooke for staying from the issue), Guest scratched at his mustache, perhaps wondering what the other Northern Virginians were going to do.
But then came the vote, a decisive mation bill that would have opened up the records of business subsidiaries of colleges was held over until next year.
Perhaps the bitterest defeat fame to Michie, who session after session has tried to put together legislation that would settle the feud between the state's cities and counties over annexation.
Early in the session, two of the three elements of a complicated package of legislation passed by lopsided votes in the House. That left the bill that would have given the cities an increased portion of state aid excange for their relinquishing the right to seek annexation of parts of neighboring counties.
"I'll slit my throat if it doesn't pass," Michie said of the bill to aid cities after the earlier bills were approved.An indication of the troubles the money bill would encounter came when a member of the Appropriations Committee, remembering Michie's remark, said to him: "Tom, you'd save us all a lot of trouble if you'd do that."
The commitee considered the bill after laboring lengthily over its main order of business: the $9.2 billion budget for the next two years. Members of the committee found themselves ill-Prepared to analyse Michie's bill, and the more they looked at it, the more apprehensive they became about its implications.
By 1962, according to Michie's own figures, the bill could cost the state more than $100 million a year in additional aid to cities. Committee members representing rural areas were concerned because the bill seemed to have very little for their districts.
When the committee voted, 11 to 8, not to send the bill to the full House, Michie came back the next day with some compromise amendments. On a reconsideration, he won over one earlier dissenter, Del. W. L. Lemmon (D-Marion,) who represents a largely rural area. But that was all.
While Stambaugh suffered two major defeats, other lawmakers had lavish praise for his performance. His Democratic colleague from Arlington, Del. Elise B. Heinz (D), said: "When Warren came down here five years ago, he was an eager-beaver, knee-jerk liberal. Now he's a positive, effective legislator. People have learned to respect him."
Gartlan, who helped lead defeat of Stambaugh's abortion bill in the Senate, said: "He's just plain good at the business of legislating. He's sharp, quick and knowledgeable. God help us all if he was a lawyer." Stambaugh sells insurance.
Although the governmental reorganization bills that Brault sponsored fared none too well, he did have some winners. The General Assembly passed a version of his bill creating a state health services cost commission and sent to the voters a Brault-sponsored constitutional amendment that would permit the legislatire to over-ride post-session gubernatorial vetoes.