Washington area voters made history on several fronts yesterday, making the District the first jurisdiction in the nation to guarantee via the ballot overnight shelter for the homeless, easing one of the country's most restrictive property tax limitations in Prince George's County and giving the Republican Party its first majority since Reconstruction on the Fairfax County board of supervisors.
District voters elected incumbent Democrat John Ray to an at-large city council seat, and Republican candidate Carol Schwartz was the apparent victor in the race for a second seat, despite an aggressive write-in effort by 15-year council veteran Jerry A. Moore,Jr.
The District also bucked President Reagan's national landslide, giving Democratic challenger Walter F. Mondale more than eight out of every 10 votes cast.
Voter turnout in all three Washington area jurisdictions was reported very heavy, with record numbers of voters going to the polls in many areas.
In Virginia, Reagan and Republican Sen. John W. Warner swept as expected to landslide victories as the GOP maintained its 6-4 advantage in the Old Dominion's delegation in the House of Representatives. Warner handily won a second term, crushing Democrat Edythe C. Harrison by more than a 2-to-1 margin and posting the largest victory margin in modern Virginia history in the process.
Democratic hopes of picking up at least one Virginia House seat were dashed when Republican freshman Herbert Bateman held his seat in the 1st district, defeating John McGlennon, and the GOP captured an open spot in the 7th, where D. French Slaughter, Jr. defeated Democrat Lewis Costello.
Northern Virginia Republicans Stan Parris and Frank R. Wolf, both of Fairfax, won re-election with relative ease. Parris won a fourth term from the 8th district by defeating Democrat Richard L. Saslaw, a state senator from Annandale, and Wolf repelled an aggressive challenge by Democrat John P. Flannery II, a former federal prosecutor and Senate staffer from Arlington, in the 10th district.
In Maryland, one of just six states lost by Reagan in 1980, Republicans underwent a rebirth, carrying the state for the president 52-48 and capturing a congressional seat by ousting Clarence D. Long, the 75-year-old dean of the House delegation.
Long, a 22-year veteran, was defeated by Republican Helen Delich Bentley in the second congressional district, which includes most of Baltimore County and part of Harford County. Bentley won by roughly 5,700 votes, though she did not claim victory and Long did not concede defeat because of about 7,000 outstanding absentee ballots. Bentley will become the second Republican in Maryland's eight-member delegation.
This was the third time that Bentley, a 60-year-old former newspaper reporter and maritime commission chairman under President Nixon, had challenged Long. In all three campaigns, the feisty Bentley has excoriated Long for impeding the dredging of Baltimore harbor, a failure that she claimed cost the Baltimore maritime industry thousands of jobs.
In other Maryland congressional races, all seven incumbents -- six Democrats and one Republican -- easily won re-election. In Montgomery County's 8th district, Rep. Michael D. Barnes easily defeated Republican Albert Ceccone, winning 71 percent of the vote in his bid for a fourth term.
Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer won a third term in the 5th district by beating Republican John E. Ritchie by 2 1/2-1.
Rep. Marjorie S. Holt, the delegation's lone Republican incumbent, overwhelmed Democrat Howard Greenebaum by nearly 2-1, winning a seventh term in the 4th district that includes all of Anne Arundel County and part of Prince George's County.
Sixth district Democratic Rep. Beverly B. Byron handily beat Republican challenger Robin Ficker in the state's westernmost district and Democrat Roy Dyson won a third term from the 1st district by beating his Republican opponent Harlan C. Williams.
Third District Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski overwhelmed her Republican opponent Ross Pierpont by a 2-1 margin in winning a fifth term from her Baltimore-based district.
Baltimore Democrat Parren J. Mitchell was unopposed.
Maryland voters also overwhelmingly approved a change in the state constitution that will bar former Prince George's County state Sen. Tommie Broadwater from running as an independent for his former seat in 1986. The amendment, closing a loophole in state law, requires public officeholders to be registered voters and effectively prevents Democrat Broadwater from running because he would likely still be on probation in 1986 for his federal food stamp fraud conviction.
In Prince George's County, circuit court judges Arthur M. Monty Ahalt, Jr. and G.R. Hovey Johnson held onto their judgeships, beating back a challenge by county prosecutor Arthur A. Marshall Jr., who had won one of two Republican nominations after losing in the Democrat primary to the two sitting judges.
Also in Maryland, voters approved the sale of alcohol in two rural areas of Montgomery County, Darnestown and Clarkesburg, but rejected the change in Damascus, leaving the town as the only area in Maryland which still observes prohibition.
Voters in Anne Arundel and Howard counties opted to change their method of electing council members from an at-large to a district basis, but Montgomery County rejected a similar ballot question, keeping at-large election of its council.
In Northern Virginia, Fairfax County voters approved a $74.8 million school bond issue, and Democrat John G. Milliken bucked the Republican wave by winning re-election to the Arlington County board.
Fairfax County Republican T. Farrell Egge's victory over Democrat Gerald W. Hyland and Independent Gerald A. Fill for the board of supervisors seat could dramatically alter the shape of the county's politics, as the GOP now could hold sway over the makeup of more than 60 countywide boards and commissions appointed by the supervisors.
Equally stunning was the unexpected vote to alter Prince George's County's six-year-old property tax cap known as TRIM (Tax Reform Initiative by Marylanders) which has kept overall tax collections at $144 million. The change, backed by many county politicians who have found decreasing sympathy for the county's self-imposed financial plight among legislators in Annapolis, will set the property tax limit at $2.43 per $100 assessed. The alteration will allow revenues to grow by between $6 and $8 million annually as assessments rise and ease the county's crimped financial posture of recent years.
District voters' approval of the homeless initiative came over the opposition of city hall, which had argued the measure would cost more than $60 million to implement, and despite objections by the Coalition for the Homeless which predicted it would result in the "warehousing" of the city's estimated 15,000 homeless.
Warner, who won election to his first term in the Senate six years ago by less than 4,700 votes, simply overwhelmed Harrison, his underfunded opponent who received only tepid support from many top Virginia Democrats, including Gov. Charles S. Robb. By campaign's end, Harrison was openly grousing about the extent of Robb's help, claiming it cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. Warner, after raising a war chest of $2 million, cancelled several fundraisers scheduled in October, so sure was he of the outcome.
In other Virginia House races, freshman Democrat James Olin won reelection in the 6th district, defeating former Republican state Sen. Ray L. Garland. And freshman Democrat Frederick Boucher held onto his 9th district seat in southwestern Virginia by defeating conservative legislator G. Jefferson Stafford.