Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-Loudoun). (Bob Brown/Associated Press)

VIRGINIA’S STATE legislature is where sound legislation goes to die — on health care for the needy; on safeguards to protect people from the epidemic of gun violence; on tuition subsidies for students who were brought to the United States illegally through no fault of their own. That’s why it is important to elect state lawmakers able to strike level-headed compromises, for example to break the impasse over expanding Medicaid, a measure that would extend health insurance to tens of thousands of poor Virginians and create jobs. Some 30 states have embraced the expansion, including at least nine with Republican governors. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has made it a priority. But in Richmond, Republican legislators, almost unanimously, have refused to move.

Their obstinacy — on Medicaid and a variety of social issues — makes it difficult for us to find Republicans to endorse in the handful of Northern Virginia state Senate races that look plausibly competitive.

Our endorsements below are denoted in bold type:

District 13. Sen. Dick Black’s antics in Richmond have embarrassed colleagues and constituents; the Republican is notorious for ranting against gay men and lesbians, dismissing spousal rape and, in a fight over abortion, distributing plastic fetuses to fellow lawmakers. He outdid himself last year by writing an obsequious letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, praising the dictator’s army as “heroic.” Flattered, the Iranian-backed Mr. Assad, a tyrant who has presided over one of modern history’s bloodiest cataclysms, posted Mr. Black’s letter on his Facebook page.

The district would be better represented by Democrat Jill McCabe , a doctor who leads a pediatric emergency practice in Loudoun County. Ms. McCabe, a first-time candidate, is deeply versed in health-care and children’s issues, and would press for expanding early-childhood education.

District 29: A pair of well-qualified candidates, Democratic Jeremy McPike and Republican Harry “Hal” Parrish, are vying to fill an open seat in this swing district, on which control of the closely divided state Senate may depend. Mr. McPike is the better choice.

Mr. Parrish, the mayor of Manassas, holds rigid positions — against Medicaid expansion and common-sense gun safety measures, to name but two issues — that belie his soft-spoken geniality. A darling of the National Rifle Association, which has spent heavily on his campaign, he would join the choir of pro-gun voices in Richmond.

By contrast, Mr. McPike, who oversees municipal building projects for Alexandria’s city government, is focused on the nuts and bolts of effective governance and has creative ideas about getting traffic moving on major commuting arteries such as Interstate 66. He would press for reforming Virginia’s hyper-partisan redistricting process by putting it in the hands of an independent commission.

District 33 . Sen. Jennifer Wexton , a Democrat who won a special election last year to replace Mark Herring, who ran successfully for attorney general, has been a breath of fresh air in Richmond — the lone prosecutor and female lawyer among Democrats in the General Assembly. She’s off to an auspicious start, having sponsored constructive bills to clarify mothers’ rights to breast-feed their babies in public and to make cases against pedophiles easier to prosecute. The Republican candidate, Stephen Hollingshead , a management consultant, argues that Virginia’s taxes and regulation impose a crippling burden on Virginia’s economy. In fact, the state’s tax and regulatory burdens are relatively low, as is its jobless rate.