IN VIRGINIA, the odd-year elections for governor and the state legislature tend to attract more voter attention than the contests to determine who goes to Washington -- and this year's Senate and House races prove no exception. The Senate race really isn't one, anyway: incumbent John Warner has already proved strong enough to frighten off any Democratic challenge. There is another candidate on the ballot, Nancy Spannaus, whose allegiance to Lyndon LaRouche is ample reason to see that her candidacy goes nowhere. But the House races in Northern Virginia are worthy of attention, for varied reasons that argue strongly for the election of Jim Moran over Stan Parris in the Eighth District, Frank Wolf over MacKenzie Canter, Barbara Minnich and Lyndon LaRouche in the Tenth and David M. Smith over French Slaughter in the Seventh.

By far the liveliest battle in the state has been in the Eighth, where Republican Stan Parris has squandered yet another two years as a member of Congress, most of it in an unsuccessful quest for another job -- governor -- and the remainder in a successful compounding of his singularly undistinguished, narrow and often downright nasty performance. While his demagoguery directed at the District of Columbia is as cheap as ever, his ineffectiveness and his inattention to the concerns of Northern Virginians have become more costly than ever. Nothing in Mr. Parris's sayings, doings or votes has helped his constituents in federal service as they have fretted over furloughs and the ups and downs of budget negotiations.

Northern Virginians in his district have a bright, knowledgeable and serious candidate for Mr. Parris's seat in Mr. Moran, the mayor of Alexandria. His abortion-rights stand, his experience with drug and law enforcement programs and his understanding of regional approaches to matters of concern throughout Greater Washington are the makings of a most valuable representative to speak for the Eighth District in Congress. Voters in this contest would do themselves and their neighbors a great favor by saying farewell to Mr. Parris and welcome to Mr. Moran.

The Tenth District, in marked contrast, has been served extremely well by its Republican congressman, Mr. Wolf. Members of the House (and the Senate, too) of both parties give Mr. Wolf high marks for his achievements in winning appropriations for Metro as well as for roads and for his leadership in battling attempts to ruin National Airport with still more noise and traffic. Unlike Mr. Parris, Mr. Wolf has never resorted to District-bashing; on the contrary, he has worked with all the governments of the region and with area members of Congress from both parties to advance mutual concerns. His chief opponent is Mr. Canter, the Democratic nominee, who has run a vigorous campaign stressing what he sees as a need for change and criticizing Mr. Wolf as a "pothole politician" who is "obsessed by local issues." But it is precisely Mr. Wolf's distinguished local and regional service as a caring Republican that makes him a unique asset to the entire national capital region.

Voters in the Seventh District have been poorly represented by Mr. Slaughter, whose narrow views included boycotting the congressional appearance of Nelson Mandela, opposing almost every environmental protection program known to man, opposing abortion except under certain narrow conditions and doing nothing to protect the Manassas Battlefield in his very own district. This district is changing and could use some forward thinking on its behalf in the House. David Smith, a minister and businessman, seeks to answer this with a knowledge of environmental issues, an abortion-rights stand and an interest in balancing the rural-urban interests that now make up the district. Mr. Smith could go to Washington and, even with little effort, improve on the representation that has shortchanged this important district for so long.