RICHMOND -- "I'm going to wear it like a badge of honor," Del. Gerald A. "Jerry" Fill (R-Mount Vernon) said of his last-place finish in a poll of effectiveness of legislators released this week.
Fill, a freshman lawmaker, believes that Democrats who participated in the survey "deliberately targeted" him in hopes of recapturing his 44th House District seat that he narrowly won just over a year ago.
"I'm not a part of the old-boy network and clubbiness that prevails in Richmond," Fill said. "It's 99 percent special interest" that dominates the session, he added.
Fill finished last (98th, with two new members not considered) overall in the voting by 76 Democratic legislators, 47 state and local officials and 64 lobbyists. But he fared better than four other delegates, including fellow Northern Virginians Linda M. Rollins (R-Leesburg) and Robert K. Cunningham Sr. (R-Springfield), in voting by 15 reporters, including two from The Washington Post, who participated in the survey. The reporters placed Rollins, another first-year member, last.
Fill's counterpart in the Senate was Edwina P. Dalton Phillips (R-Henrico), the widow of former Virginia governor John Dalton and the unsuccessful GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in 1989.
Repeating their first-place showings were House Speaker A.L. Philpott (D-Henry) and Senate Majority Leader Hunter B. Andrews (D-Hampton).
None of the 49 Republicans in the 140-member General Assembly participated in the survey, the fourth biennial project conducted by the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper. As a result of their boycott, the minority Republicans finished even lower than they have in past surveys.
Steve Haner, director of the Joint Republican Caucus and an organizer of the GOP boycott, attributed Fill's showing to the fact that "he kicks a few trash cans. He broke some of the rules of decorum. That doesn't mean he's ineffective. That just means he's not one of the sheep, and this place loves sheep."
"I don't mince words," Fill said.
His high-profile attacks on the majority party and legislative traditions may have contributed to another distinction: A Fill proposal to impose a 5 percent limit on property tax increases in Fairfax County, carried over from last year's session, was the first bill to die this year, killed 7 to 0 by a House Finance subcommittee on opening day.
Sen. Emilie F. Miller (D-Fairfax), who ranked 27th among the 30 Democratic senators, said the survey also shows that "women are discriminated against."
The same might be said of black legislators. Three of the seven black lawmakers in the House finished among the eight lowest-rated Democrats.
In the Senate, the highest ranking member who is not a white male was eight-year veteran Robert C. Scott (D-Newport News), who placed 14th; while in the House, 12-term Del. Mary A. Marshall (D-Arlington) won that distinction, placing 13th.
Despite recent gains by blacks and women -- there are 10 black and 16 female legislators -- white males maintained their dominance in the survey, a result that is partly, if not largely, attributable to the perquisites of seniority.
"Nobody takes this seriously," said Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Springfield), a white legislator who slipped from 15th to 16th among Democratic senators.
Not everyone agrees with that assessment.
Sen. Emilie Miller said, "You can't disregard it totally, because your opponents will use it."
Here's how Northern Virginia's legislators ranked, with their showings in 1989, 1987 and 1985, where applicable, in parenthesis. An asterisk denotes a Republican):SENATE
3 -- Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. of Mount Vernon (4, 5, 7).
7 -- Clive L. DuVal 2d of McLean (7, 9, 8).
9 -- Edward M. Holland of Arlington (8, 16, 17).
16 -- Richard L. Saslaw of Springfield (15, 20, 20).
17 -- Charles L. Waddell of Loudoun (18, 22, 26).
22 -- Charles J. Colgan of Prince William (19, 24, 24).
31 -- Emilie F. Miller of Fairfax (34).
35* -- Robert L. Calhoun of Alexandria. HOUSE
13 -- Mary A. Marshall of Arlington (16, 17, 26).
19 -- Bernard S. Cohen of Alexandria (26, 27, 32).
26 -- James F. Almand of Arlington (37, 34, 40).
28 -- Leslie L. Byrne of Fairfax (55, 87).
29* -- Vincent F. Callahan Jr. of McLean (30, 20, 18).
35 -- Kenneth R. Plum of Reston (41, 52, 46).
38 -- Marian Van Landingham of Alexandria (38, 44, 52).
39 -- David G. Brickley of Woodbridge (43, 45, 47).
40 -- Gladys B. Keating of Franconia (50, 56, 48).
53* -- James H. Dillard II of Fairfax (67, 56, 58).
60 -- Alan E. Mayer of Fairfax (66, 91).
64* -- Harry J. Parrish of Manassas (71, 60, 82).
69* -- Robert E. Harris of Fairfax (78, 64, 75).
74* -- Robert T. Andrews of McLean (84, 72, 84).
81* -- John A. "Jack" Rollison III of Woodbridge (87, 93).
84* -- Robert K. Cunningham Sr. of Springfield (94, 89, 99).
85* -- Jane H. Woods of Fairfax (93).
93* -- Richard L. Fisher of Vienna.
95* -- Linda M. Rollins of Leesburg.
98* -- Gerald A. "Jerry" Fill of Mount Vernon.