The three Republican candidates for the House of Delegates in Arlington are on the offensive. Out on the civic association circuit, they're hitting hard at their opponents' voting records, charging the three incumbent Democrats with "saying one thing in Richmond and another in Arlington."
Theodore A. (Ted) Lattanzio, now in his second race for the House, accuses the Democrats of voting to let criminals back on the streets. His running mate Georgia A. Delyannis has picked on their stand on the ban on drug paraphernalia. And E. J. (Jay) Jarvis II insists that all three incumbents -- Mary A. Marshall, Warren G. Stambaugh and James F. Almand -- have lost touch with the folks back home.
Given the strength of the Democratic ticket in Arlington, taking the offense may be the Republicans' best tack. It's been eight years since the county sent a Republican to the House of Delegates and Arlington's election results last year -- which gave pluralities to Democrats running in local and congressional races -- gave little evidence of a mounting Republican tide in the county.
Still, Republicans have taken heart from their majority on the County Board and from the national conservative mood. This year, unlike 1979, they're running a full slate of candidates in Arlington's three-member 22nd House District, hoping to crack on Nov. 3 what generally is perceived as the most liberal delegation in the Virginia legislature.
Thus far, the Republicans have had trouble taking aim at their targets. For instance, two weeks ago, Delyannis charged that all three Democrats had voted against the ban on drug paraphernalia, until it was pointed out that the bill passed the House last winter 98 to 0. Defending herself, she came back with a 1980 roll call, when the bill failed because of constitutional questions. And finally, she noted that Stambaugh was absent this year when the House took its final vote on the bill.
"He didn't take a stand," charged 48-year-old Delyannis at an Arlington Forest Civic Association meeting last week.
To Stambaugh, the drug paraphernalia question is an example of the "shrill" and "reckless" tone that has crept into the delegates' race this year. He voted for the ban on drug paraphernalia this year and to contend otherwise, he says, is to "blatantly distort" the record.
Lattanzio, a 34-year-old official of the National Rifle Association who finished fourth in 1979, says he is stressing crime and tax issues. He has attacked the Arlington delegation's votes for the state's early-parole law, for reform of the state's "good time" rules for prisoners and to exempt people under 21 from Virginia's mandatory sentence for crimes committed with guns.
The Democrats have defended these votes, noting, for example, that the six-month early release program has allowed the state to supervise all prisoners exiting state institutions, not just parolees.
Furthermore, as Marshall stressed recently, two of the three bills were proposed by the Republican administration of Gov. John N. Dalton. "It suddenly occurred to me that our opponents aren't running against us, they're running against a Republican governor," she told one civic association. "Maybe they should take their campaign down to Richmond."
Jarvis, a 37-year-old insurance underwriter, has made less of the incumbents' past votes although he alludes to an "arrogance and aloofness" that comes from holding office too long. He has pressed for changes in the state's redistricting plan to allow delegates to run in single, rather than multi-member districts.
Also running this year is 29-year-old Rodney McFadden, the Libertarian candidate who advocates an abolition of the sales tax and opposes continued subsidies for Metro.
This year, as in the past, Arlington's Democrats are running as a team, emphasizing their combined 24 years experience in the legislature and promising renewed efforts on issues dear to Arlington voters, including repeal of the four per cent sales tax on food, a cause championed by Stambaugh.
Of the three, Marshall, a 60-year-old veteran with 12 years in the legislature and a long record in matters involving the elderly, is regarded as the strongest candidate, having led the ticket decisively in the last election. Although Almand, a 32-year-old lawyer, finished third in 1979, some Republicans speculate this year that the most vulnerable Democrat is Stambaugh, now running for his fifth term.
While the GOP ticket in Arlington is receiving more in targeted aid from the state and national parties this year, party officials concede theirs is an uphill fight. "But," said Jade West, chairman of the Arlington Republican party, "last time, we didn't have the [County] Board majority, Congress and the White House."