The Republican Party faithful in Fairfax County are searching among their ranks for someone who may have lost the faith.
"Paranoia," they mutter. "Resentment." "Fear." But the word heard most frequently yesterday was "Stupid"
What has angered the Republicans was the theft last weekend of a list bearing the names of 7,000 voters who had told telephone canvassers that they planned to vote Republican in Tuesday's Virginia elections.
The list was taken by someone who had access to three keys that opened two locked doors and a closet at the Fairfax County Republican Party headquarters in Annandale.
The list mysteriously was returned to the party Monday afternoon - just hours before the polls opened - but too late for party workers to call an estimated 6,000 people on the list reminding them to get to the polls.
While the list was missing the party's 17-telephone bank operations had to be slowed - a factor that some Republicans said contributed to the disappointingly poor showing of Republican Senate candidate John W. Warner and congressional nominee John F. Herrity in the southern half of the county. Party officials had expected Warner to draw more than the 50 percent of the vote he won there and Herrity to get more than his 52 percent of the vote.
No one who would comment on the list's sudden disappearance yesterday could say who did the deed, but almost everyone was suggesting someone else in the party.
"Paranoia," snapped Nicholas Longworth, a regional director for the Republican National Committee in Virginia. "In the heat of the last minute folks just got up tight and let their emotions run away with their good judgment."
The list, which party officials said was returned after a call from an "intermediary," contained the names of several thousand ticket-splitters, other Warner or Herrity and one of the Democrats running against them.
The Herrity and Warner camps had made a decision not to call any of those ticket-splitters who would hurt one candidate and help another. The vow was for the sake of party unity.
Many suspicious Republicans said yesterday they think that someone who had the three keys necessary to swipe the list either wanted to stab one of the GOP candidate in the back by calling the ticket-splitters or was afraid of being stabbed in the back.
"Everybody is pointing the finger at everybody else," Longworth said yesterday. "They are doing nothing but hurting the party." The Republican Party of Virginia, which owns the list, is "very concerned about this affair," and will begin its own investigation, accordingly to Martin (Buzz) Fitzpatrick, the party's organization director.
The candidate who stood to lose the most by the theft was Warner because the headquarters phone bank represented his entire get-out-the-vote phone effort in the sourthern part of the county. Herrity had separate phone operations run from private homes.
Accordingly to those who ran the GOP phone bank, the theft backfired and hurt both candidates. "We couldn't use those phones to get the vote for either one of them," said one Republican.