IN ADDITION to the statewide candidates, Virginia voters will choose all 100 members of the House of Delegates on Tuesday. These are our choices for the contested House races in Northern Virginia:
District 13: Robert G. Marshall (R), the incumbent, is an ineffective lawmaker who has managed to stir things up by bashing gays, embryonic stem cell research, sex education, women's access to birth control and Gov. Mark R. Warner's 2004 tax overhaul, which helped public schools across Virginia. He loves a fight; what a shame he hasn't mustered the same passion for improving the state's clogged roads. His opponent, educator and retired fire and rescue worker Bruce E. Roemmelt (D), is a better bet to address transportation problems.
District 32: Incumbent Richard H. Black (R), with his narrow focus on social issues and all-inclusive, just-say-no opposition to additional revenue-raising, has alienated most of his GOP colleagues in the House, to say nothing of the Democrats. Attorney and businessman David E. Poisson (D), who has worked on U.S. Senate staffs and has an impressive record of community service, offers a welcome contrast.
District 35: Incumbent Stephen C. Shannon (D), who supported the 2004 tax package approved with bipartisan votes in both houses, recognizes as folly the free-lunch, anti-tax refrain of his opponent, attorney James E. Hyland (R). Mr. Hyland knocks Mr. Shannon for raising taxes -- while insisting the district receive "our fair share for transportation and education." Mr. Shannon is the clear choice.
District 36: Kenneth R. Plum (D), a well-regarded, serious lawmaker, deserves reelection. There is no Republican in the race; Mr. Plum's opponent is Libertarian Donald E. Ferguson.
District 37: This is an open-seat contest between two knowledgeable major-party candidates who understand and have backed efforts to raise revenue for transportation and education. John Mason (R), a former Fairfax City mayor, has served on regional transportation committees and supported the failed 2002 referendum for Northern Virginia transportation. Environmental planner David L. Bulova (D) is a serious player in local government issues too; as a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Board, he is respected for his expertise on the environment. We lean to Mr. Mason based on his vast experience in regional government.
District 38: Robert D. Hull (D), who has held the seat since 1994, faces token opposition from B. Leland Cheung (R). Mr. Hull is well prepared; Mr. Cheung, an engineer, is a novice with no substantial record of community involvement.
District 39: Voters in this district are fortunate to be represented by Vivian E. Watts (D), whose intelligence, hard work, and political and legislative savvy have earned the respect of lawmakers from both parties. Her opponent, Michael J. Meunier (R), chief executive of an information and technology consulting firm, is no match.
District 41: This race, for the seat left vacant by the retirement of James H. Dillard II, a moderate Republican, offers a stark choice between candidates who split over Mr. Warner's 2004 tax package. Dave W. Marsden (D), a former aide to Mr. Dillard, argues sensibly that the package was a sound investment; Michael J. Golden (R), a hard-line anti-taxer, suggests irresponsibly that he might consider voting to roll it back. Mr. Marsden, who was director of Fairfax County's Juvenile Detention Center for 17 years, has valuable experience dealing with youth gangs. He would make a fine delegate.
District 42: The incumbent, David B. Albo (R), an energetic, engaging lawmaker, is in line to lead the House Courts of Justice Committee, a key legislative job. But lately he has moved away from his earlier moderate record, joining ranks with right-wingers in trying to torpedo the Warner tax package and waging a strident campaign against undocumented immigrants. Gregory A. Werkheiser (D), a bright, charismatic lawyer, has mounted a coherent and well-financed campaign. We have backed Mr. Albo in the past, based on his legislative skill and broad knowledge of legal and judicial issues. But he has abandoned important elements of his own constituency as well as the sensible middle ground. Accordingly, we support Mr. Werkheiser.
District 43: Voters should support incumbent Mark D. Sickles (D), if only to punish his opponent, Ron M. Grignol Jr. (R), for running a sleazy campaign ripe with the stench of innuendo. As it happens, Mr. Sickles, a promising first-term lawmaker, is also right on the need to invest in Virginia's future, while Mr. Grignol would starve the state of revenue.
District 44: Incumbent Kristen J. Amundson (D) is the easy choice here, having chalked up a record of community service that Greg B. Scoma (R) cannot match.
District 45: Two strong candidates are vying to succeed retiring Marian Van Landingham in one of the state's most solidly Democratic districts. Newcomer David L. Englin (D) has run a turbocharged campaign both in the primary, where he beat a crowded field of Democrats, and since then against Chris J. Gregerson, a moderate Republican. Mr. Gregerson has deeper roots and a longer record of community involvement in the district, but he has championed a proposal that could squeeze schools and social services by artificially holding down residential property tax assessments. Mr. Englin, though he moved into the district just two years ago, has made up in energy what he lacks in longevity there. He has promise.
District 46: Brian J. Moran (D), who wields some clout as the Democratic caucus leader in the House of Delegates, deserves reelection in his campaign against Matthew A. Mueda (R).
District 50: The incumbent, Harry J. Parrish (R), is an institution in the General Assembly -- a 24-year veteran who chairs the House Finance Committee. He is the obvious choice against Donald E. Shuemaker Jr. (D).
District 51: Michele B. McQuigg (R), who has held this seat for eight years, is an energetic but lackluster delegate who opposed Mr. Warner's signal achievement, last year's tax overhaul. Her opponent, Earnest W. Porta Jr. (D), a finance officer at Georgetown University, is our choice.
District 52: Hilda M. Barg (D), 72, is a generation or two older than incumbent Jeffrey M. Frederick (R), a 30-year-old House freshman -- and she has the wisdom to prove it. Mr. Frederick, in office just two years, has aligned himself with the most extreme elements of his party. Ms. Barg, a fixture of local politics as a Prince William County supervisor for 18 years and an effective public servant, is a much better alternative.
District 67: If there were a prize for worst candidate of the season, Chris S. Craddock (R) would be a strong contender. In the race for this seat, Mr. Craddock -- who's managed to rack up at least nine traffic tickets since 2001, including one for reckless driving a few weeks ago -- used a 14-year-old endorsement by a gay newspaper to smear his primary opponent, incumbent Del. Gary A. Reese. Mr. Craddock, a 27-year-old youth minister who hates taxes, and has attributed AIDS in Africa to those who seek sex "with anything with a pulse" -- and that may not be his dumbest or most offensive pronouncement. We hope his main opponent, C. Chuck Caputo (D), wins, if only to spare voters more of Mr. Craddock's callow inanity.
District 88: The incumbent, Mark L. Cole (R), voted to outlaw baggy pants and opposed Mr. Warner's tax package. Wisdom prevailed, and he lost on both counts. The district would be better served by the challenger, C.A. "Chuck" Feldbush (D).