Every poll and every politician in Northern Virginia will tell you there are only three important issues in this year's elections: traffic, traffic and traffic.

But someone forgot to inform Bob Beers and Jane Woods.

Beers and Woods are facing each other in Tuesday's primary for the GOP nomination in Virginia's 37th House District, which includes Fairfax City and a patch of central Fairfax County.

In the last several weeks, Beers has slammed Woods for refusing to enter into public debates without first receiving, in writing, all the questions she will have to answer.

"There is an obligation of a candidate to speak before the public," said Beers, 39, a lawyer and Vietnam veteran. "Mrs. Woods has been unwilling to answer questions in public."

On the other side, Woods, 40, a teacher and Republican organizer in Fairfax City, has upbraided Beers for failing to meet campaign reporting deadlines, which she says shows "callous disregard of the laws of Virginia" and "total disdain for the public's right to be informed."

The Woods-Beers bickering follows in the familiar tradition of Fairfax Republicans, who seem just as happy to fight among themselves as to attack their Democratic opposition.

In the end, some Republicans worry, the infighting may result in the party losing control of the 37th District, an area thought to be friendly to the GOP.

The seat is held by Del. Stephen E. Gordy, 67, a Republican who is retiring after four quiet years in the House of Delegates. As a result, the 37th is the only district in Northern Virginia without an incumbent seeking reelection.

The Democratic candidate is Jeffrey J. Fairfield, who gave Gordy a scare two years ago in his race for reelection. Fairfield, then a politically unknown lawyer, came within 1 percent of knocking Gordy off.

Fairfield, 36, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination this year, and has stood to the side as Beers and Woods have hurled invective at each other.

Few Republicans seem to have a firm idea of who is ahead in the primary contest.

Beers, who spent seven years as an aide to Fairfax Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III (R-Mason), is hoping his association with one of the county's most popular politicians will pay off in the primary. Davis is his campaign chairman.

Woods is relying on support from Fairfax City, where she is Republican Party chairman and a longtime civic and PTA activist.

Last week, the two candidates held an impromptu debate outside a Republican women's luncheon when a reporter asked them to outline their differences.

Among other subjects, they disagreed on:Small claims court. Beers said he opposes legislation to establish Virginia's first small claims court, which would be located in Fairfax, because the proposal would bar attorneys from representing clients before the judge. Woods said she supports the bill, which would set a claims limit of $1,000. Sales tax on food. Woods said she would not remove the sales tax on food, which supports education and other public endeavors, unless alternative revenue sources could be found. Beers said he is against the tax, and would let voters set the sales tax on other items in a statewide referendum.