An article about congressional redistricting in Virginia in yesterday's editions said in correctly that State Del. David G. Speck (R-Alexandria) was among those favoring a plan to create an inner-Beltway district in the Washington suburbs. Speck opposed that idea.
The Virginia General Assembly today moved toward a congressional redistricting plan that would make only minor adjustments in the boundaries of Northern Virginia's two congressional districts.
But the plan fell short of final passage tonight amid fears by some legislative leaders that it would be wrecked by bickering between the state Senate and House of Delegates. "We didn't think we had the votes to pass it," said House Speaker A. L. Philpott (D-Henry). "We adjourned in hope we can get a concensus in the morning."
The legislature's two houses, urged by their Democratic leaders to take a nonpartisan attitude toward the state's largely Republican congressional delegation, tentatively approved the plan by comfortable margins. The lawmakers reached agreement after the House three times rejected highly partisan amendments that would have merged Arlington, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County into an inner-beltway district and thrown Northern Virginia's two Republican representatives into the same district outside the beltway.
The tentatively approved plan would preserve the existing 10th District of Rep. Frank Wolf, and shrinks the 8th Distric to Rep. Standord E. Parris to reflect such of the region's population growth in the 1970s.
The plan was later endangered when House members became angry at what they perceived as high-handed treatment by the Senate, which originated the redistricting scheme. "The general impression is that we've been outmaneuvered by the Senate, and everyone's upset about it," said Del. John H. Rust Jr. (R-Fairfax).
None of the state's incumbent congressmen, all but one of whom are Republicans, is generally believed to be threatened by the redistricting bill. As Del. John D. Gray (D-Hampton), chairman of the House Privileges and Elections Commission, put it, "We tried not to gerrymander."
Today's action came as the General Assembly struggled toward the end of two tortuous special sessions, which were marked by political and regional infighting. Dozens of plans to reshape the state's legislative and congressional districts to conform to the 1980 Census were proposed and then abandoned.
After redrawing their own Senate and House districts earlier this month, the assembly's 140 members deadlocked on new congressional boundaries and went home.
Before tentatively settling on yesterday's plan, they had contorted the state's congressional districts into shapes that critics said resembled a dead lobster, a cow's udder, and, some said, a profile of President Reagan.
Del. Warren G. Stamburgh (D-Arlington), who had labored unsuccessfully to push through a more partisan plan, blamed all the confusion on a lack of leadership by senior House members. "All this stuff we've been going through would have been totally unnecessary if we'd had some thought and consultation beforehand," he said.
The effort to create an inner-Beltway district was led by Del. Mary A. Marshall (D-Arlington). She argued that the areas inside and outside the Capital Beltway are so different, in housing, school population, ethnic mix and transportation needs, that "you can tell the difference between them when you fly over in an airplane."
But Del. Dorothy S. McDiarmid (D-Fairfax) argued that the present configurations should be maintained "to allow for growth in both districts." Creating a district within the beltway, where population growth will be less than in outer Fairfax and Prince William counties would violate the principle of one-man, one-vote within the next five years, McDiarmid said.
When it came time to vote, the Northern Virginia delegates divided more along geographical than political lines. Most of the Fairfax delegates voted to keep the existing alignment. Joining Marshall in calling for inner and outer beltway alignments were Del. James E. Almand (D-Arlington), Bernard S. Cohen (D-Alexandria), Elsie B. Heinz (D-Arlington), David G. Speck (R-alexandria) and Stambaugh.
The tentaively approved alignment divides Prince William County, which currently is entirely within Parris' district, between Parris and Rep. Kenneth Robinson's 7th District. Robinson, a Republican, would gain the county's western half and Parris would retain its more rapidly growing eastern portion, a split that Del. David G. Brickley (D-Prince William) said parallels the county's "communities of interest."
All but two Acquia Harbor precints of Stafford county also would move to Robinson's district.
Members of the state Senate approved the plan yesterday. Shortly before it passed the House today by a 57-to-37 margin. Del. William T. Wilson (D-Allegheny) warned that "this bill will not stand the constitutional test" of equal representation demanded under Supreme Court rulings.
Population deviations among the congressional districts then ranged up to 2.56 percent and some legislators said the courts have been insisting that the deviation be no more than 1 percent.
But a conference committee later lowered the maximum deviation to 1.77 percent before returning the legislation to both houses last night.
Any plan will have to be signed by Gov. John N. Dalton, a Republican and reviewed by the Justice Deparment under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before it can become effective.