With Election Day just 12 days away, it seems there are almost as many campaign signs as cars on Fairfax's roadways. Many of their messages are a red, white and blue blur -- but not D. Patrick Mullins' signs.

Mullins, a Republican running in the central Fairfax Annandale District, unintentionally got more double takes than he expected when he paid a contractor to erect six 4-by-8-foot signs along Braddock Road and Rte. 236.

The signs read: Elect Patrick Mullins, Nov. 6.

The election is Nov. 3.

Turns out the large signs are leftovers from Mullins' unsuccessful 1979 race against Audrey Moore, who this year is vacating her Annandale seat to run for county board chairman. That year, the election was held Nov. 6. While Mullins insists he told the contractor to change the date, it wasn't done. Then the telephones started ringing.

"Somebody accused me of trying to fool the Democrats," Mullins said, joking about the mistake, which has since been corrected.

Mullins' opponent is Democrat Sharon Bulova, a former aide to Moore.

Democrat Moore's campaign for Fairfax County board chairman is crossing state lines.

A group of Montgomery County civic activists is planning a wine and cheese fund-raising reception Sunday for Moore, whose campaign has touched the same slow-growth chord that dominated last year's race by David I. Scull for Montgomery County executive.

Scull, then a County Council member, lost in a Democratic primary to Sidney Kramer, a former Maryland state senator. Kramer went on to win the county's top elected position.

Some Montgomery civic leaders, frustrated by development proposals, particularly the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, say they see an across-the-river champion in Moore.

In a speech last week before 700 members of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, Moore referred to herself as an economist. While it is true that she received an undergraduate degree in economics at the University of New Hampshire in 1950, the Democrat does not have a graduate degree in economics, nor has she ever worked professionally in the field.

"She studied {economics} and she feels she can apply it," explained Janice Spector, Moore's spokeswoman. "I suppose it is a legitimate claim."

But M. Constance Bedell, a spokeswoman for Fairfax board Chairman John F. Herrity, thinks otherwise. "There is a difference between studying economics and being {an economist}," Bedell said. "That's kind of stretching it a little bit."

Herrity, who has been attacking Moore's record on transportation issues, brought that battle closer to the voters last week. He organized a group of high school students to stand at rush hour along busy roadways, including Rte. 123 and Telegraph Road, carrying signs that said "Audrey Moore refused to support the widening of this road."

Moore has voted in favor of many of the roads, but on Feb. 23 she abstained from a vote to make the widening of those two roads, as well as other road-widening projects, a priority. Her reasoning then: Annandale, the district she has represented since 1971, did not get enough of its road projects on the top priority list.

"It's unfortunate that they have no qualms about plastering kids with signs that do not tell the truth," a Moore spokesman said.

Herrity folks, and kids, say they stand behind their signs.

Loudoun County Supervisor Frank I. Lambert, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Betsey Brown, are campaigning for the right to represent Catoctin District, which covers an estimated 125 square miles. Most of it is farmland where door-to-door canvassing means driving down miles of rutted country roads that would test the hardiest Land Rover.

Brown, who is taking time off from her job as a psychologist to campaign full time, says she is trying to meet most of the district's 3,616 voters individually. "I spend a lot of time in my car," she says. "And I've met a lot of dogs." She estimates that every family has at least three.

Lambert, who has two shelties and a collie, says he is unable to campaign door to door this year because he is busy with county government matters and his communications business. "This is the time I really envy those people running in Sterling or in areas like Countryside," a dense housing development east of Leesburg. "The most you can cover here is about 10 houses a day."

Lambert says his most humbling experience came when a farmer's wife listened politely to his spiel and then said, "Well, you seem like a mighty nice person, but I always vote for Senator Byrd." Harry F. Byrd retired from the U.S. Senate in 1983.

Virginia Lt. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder presented Moore with a $2,500 check from his Underdog Fund last Saturday. Wilder established the fund to aid Democratic candidates around the state and the nation, and Moore is the first candidate for a local government office to receive a grant.