As Fairfax Democrat Mark Glaser sees it, there is only one issue in his Nov. 2 race for the Virginia General Assembly: state Del. Warren E. Barry of Springfield.
Glaser, 33, a teacher of handicapped children, is attempting to oust Barry, the House's minority whip, claiming that the seven-term Republican's record isn't worthy of approval.
"I'm committed to retiring Warren Barry as a favor to the voters," said Glaser, who is making his first bid for public office. "Warren Barry doesn't care anymore. He isn't trying very hard to win this race."
Barry, 49, a Northern Virginia Republican elder, laughs off his opponent's attacks. "The truth of the matter is," he said, "I have nothing to run from. When your opponent has no qualifications, he can't do anything else but attack. I probably did the same thing when I first ran 13 years ago."
And so, Barry and Glaser have squared off in a race of personality in southeast Fairfax County, in a district of 21,600 registered voters bordered on the north by the Capital Beltway, the east by Fort Belvoir, the south by the Potomac River and the west by the Occoquan River.
Barry's newly-created 42nd District is perhaps one of the most diverse of Northern Virginia's 21 House districts. It encompasses Springfield, the Rte. 1 corridor and Lorton.
Glaser has accused his opponent of missing 10 "crucial" roll-call votes in the last session and says Barry's resignation from the influential House Appropriations Committee was a "severe blow to our area." Still worse, Glaser claims Barry has been "nasty" to constituents.
Barry says that of 1,269 bills voted on during the House's 1982 session, he missed only 26 votes, "none of which was crucial . . . pretty exemplary record." He said he agreed to serve on the appropriations panel for two years, then ended up serving four, to the detriment of his commercial property management business. He rejected the charge of being nasty.
In the tradition of Northern Virginia politics, Barry and Glaser have their volunteers working the telephones and readying their direct mailings. Barry has raised $3,300 for his campaign while Glaser has raised $2,500 in contributions and added $2,000 of his own money. His home is his headquarters, he is his own campaign manager, his own direct mail mogul.
"I see a lot of egotistical things with the people involved in the race," said Glaser, "but I've evaluated my own objectives and I know I'm not in this for Mark Glaser. . . . It is something an individual can do to affect the community in which he lives."
As a school teacher, Glaser sees adolescent drug and alcohol abuse as one of his primary fields of fire. He said he'd like to see judicial penalties established for adults who use juveniles as intermediaries in drug operations. He said he would also like to see the drinking age in Virginia raised from 18 to 21, a cause that Barry has also championed in Richmond.
But so far, his primary salvos have been directed at Barry. "Warren Barry is and should be an example for the entire community to emulate because he is a legislator and he makes laws," Glaser says. "We should demand as much or more from him than from anyone in our community, but he doesn't meet those demands."
Barry said, "It is most difficult to motivate yourself to run for office after 13 years. I don't think there's anyone in the legislature that doesn't get tired of running. But the plain fact of it is that few people in Northern Virginia have the seniority I do. If Mark Glaser doesn't think I'm running hard, he hasn't seen what we're going to unload in the next 10 days: a sign blitz, full direct mailings. When I want to retire, I'll retire, I won't do it by letting someone not qualified retire me."
Barry's campaign, he said, accents his experience gained during seven terms, his position as minority whip and as 14th-ranking member of the 100-member House and his place on major committees.
"It's a pity this election has come to the low point of all this mudslinging," Barry said. "This is my first experience in running one-on-one in single-member districts and I'm sorry I had the great misfortune of drawing the opponent I drew."