Sen John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Republican Reps. Frank R. Wolf and D. French Slaughter Jr. were easily reelected yesterday, but another Virginia GOP incumbent, Rep. Herbert H. Bateman, barely retained the Tidewater seat he has held for eight years.
Bateman, 62, received 51 percent of the vote in a tight race against television reporter Andy Fox, 30, a poorly funded Democrat who emerged from obscurity as Congress wrangled over the federal budget in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Warner, 63, cruised to his third six-year term, receiving 82 percent of the vote against independent challenger Nancy B. Spannaus, a follower of jailed political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.
Bucking the anti-incumbent fervor that swept the nation, Warner was such a heavy favorite for reelection that the Democrats offered no challenger.
Wolf, 51, of Vienna, was running well ahead of underfunded Democratic challenger N. MacKenzie Canter III, 40, a Fairfax lawyer. With more than four-fifths of the precincts reporting, Wolf had 61 percent of the vote in the 10th Congressional District, which includes Arlington, Falls Church, and Loudoun and northern Fairfax counties.
Wolf campaigned for his sixth term by stressing his work on transportation projects that created car pool lanes, widened bridges and made improvements to Interstate 66. Although Canter raised only about $70,000, less than a sixth of what Wolf raised, he aggressively attacked Wolf's conservative record.
LaRouche and another independent, Barbara S. Minnich, also ran long-shot campaigns in the district.
In the largely rural 7th District, Slaughter, 62, defeated Democrat David M. Smith, 34, with 58 percent of the vote.
Smith, who had never before run for political office, raised more than $340,000, with the help of his father and campaign treasurer, Del. Alson H. Smith (Winchester), Virginia's top Democratic fund-raiser.
He flooded the district, which includes parts of Prince William and Stafford, with fliers and radio ads criticizing Slaughter's votes on the savings and loan bailout bill.
The Slaughter camp counted heavily on the district's Republican orientation and largely ignored Smith for most of the campaign, preferring to focus on Slaughter's anti-tax, pro-defense record.
In the 1st District -- which includes Hampton Roads, Newport News and the Northern Neck -- Fox drew a cool reception from Democratic Party regulars when he declared his candidacy last spring, and raised only $53,000 to Bateman's nearly $200,000.
Bateman, a conservative four-term incumbent, had touted his ability to win defense contracts for Tidewater firms, but the local mood swung heavily against incumbents during the protracted federal budget crisis. Bateman counterattacked with commercials featuring Tidewater residents that showed no identifiable Washington landmarks.
In the Richmond suburbs, Republican Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. received 66 percent of the vote in defeating poorly funded Democrat James A. Starke Jr. and independent Rose L. Simpson in the 3rd District.
The three Democratic incumbents who faced independents won easily: Owen B. Pickett in the 2nd District, Norman Sisisky in the 4th District and Jim Olin in the 6th District.