REPUBLICANS HOLD a 59-seat majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates. Now, owing partly to their control of a baldly partisan redistricting process, swing districts across the state have been transformed into safe ones for the GOP. If the result is to further entrench increasingly hard-line, anti-tax, socially conservative Republicans in the legislature’s lower house, many Northern Virginians are likely to be unhappy.
Critically, given the stated, and in some cases sworn, opposition of many Republican lawmakers to new taxes, statewide relief is unlikely for Virginia’s stressed transportation system. Some Republicans acknowledge privately that there will be no help for commuters without additional revenue. But few are willing to say so publicly, for fear of antagonizing the Tea Partyers, Grover Norquist disciples and other government-shrinkers who now hold sway in the GOP. On other issues, too, such as guns, immigration and research on climate change, House Republicans are nudging the Old Dominion away from its traditions of moderate, pro-business governance.
Beginning today, The Post’s endorsements in Northern Virginia’s contested House races appear in bold type; more will appear in subsequent editions. The full list is available online at www.washingtonpost.com/editorials/.
To determine your legislative district and candidates on your ballot, go to https://www.voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/PublicSite/Public/FT2/Public
Lookup.aspx, fill out the form, click on “Find” and then “My Ballot.” (Yes, we wish it were easier, too.)
DISTRICT 2: Democrat Esteban Garces is one of only a handful of Latino candidates running for state office in Virginia, and Latinos make up 17 percent of voters in his newly created district in Prince William and northern Stafford counties. But Mr. Garces, a 30-year-old community organizer, is a neophyte; he has based his campaign in part on a pie-in-the-sky proposal to extend Metro’s Blue Line to Potomac Mills. Republican L. Mark Dudenhefer, a retired Marine who chairs the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, will have trouble delivering on his platform to widen Route 1 and provide other transportation solutions, given his opposition to new revenue sources. But his experience and seriousness give him the edge.
DISTRICT 10: Republican J. Randall Minchew, a lawyer and former chairman of the Loudoun County Economic Development Commission, stepped down as part-time adviser to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to compete for a newly created seat extending from Loudoun County to Frederick County. Mr. Minchew is a conservative hard-liner on social issues but more pragmatic on transportation; he says he would not rule out supporting new revenue sources. He has the advantage over Democrat David Butler, a Leesburg Town Council member who supports a dedicated revenue source for transportation but may lack the experience to be effective.
DISTRICT 13: Last year Robert G. Marshall, the take-no-prisoners culture warrior who has represented this district in Prince William for 20 years, suggested that God’s vengeance accounted for handicapped children born to women who previously have had abortions. This year he tried to ban gay men and lesbians from serving in Virginia’s National Guard, proposed that the state establish its own currency lest the Federal Reserve collapse and led an assault on the University of Virginia’s academic freedom in the name of bashing climate-change science. Mr. Marshall’s incendiary, loopy comments and legislation inspire eye-rolling and occasional condemnation from even fellow Republicans. His Democratic challenger, Carl S. Genthner, a retired defense contractor, is a smart, sane, sober moderate.
DISTRICT 31: Democrat Roy D. Coffey, a longtime civic activist with a background in transportation planning, is a good choice for this district in Prince William and Fauquier counties. A planner who works for the Architect of the Capitol, Mr. Coffey takes a pragmatic approach to improving public transit, emphasizing improved bus networks. Republican L. Scott Lingamfelter, a 10-year incumbent, has no plan to deal with traffic and has devoted much of his energy to chasing away illegal immigrants, a federal responsibility.
DISTRICT 34: Barbara Comstock, a smart, energetic Republican freshman, seeks reelection in a district that stretches from McLean in Fairfax County to northwest Loudoun. But Ms. Comstock has taken a pledge opposing new taxes that makes a mockery of her stated commitment to tackle transportation problems. Her Democratic opponent, Pamela B. Danner, eschews such simplistic positions. A 25-year resident of McLean, Ms. Danner, a lawyer, has led the McLean Community Foundation and served on the Fairfax County Water Authority Board. Her pragmatism would be a welcome addition to the statehouse.
DISTRICT 36: Kenneth R. Plum, the longtime incumbent in this Fairfax district centered around Reston, leads the House Democratic Caucus. Experienced, savvy and practical, he has fought for funding for schools and roads, and crusaded to eliminate the death penalty and provide legal protections for gay men and lesbians. Republican Hugh “Mac” Cannon is an earnest opponent but not ready for prime time in Richmond.
DISTRICT 37: Democrat David L. Bulova, the incumbent, and his Republican challenger, Brian W. Schoeneman, have waged a civil, thoughtful race. Both are well-versed on issues affecting their district, which includes the city of Fairfax and parts of Centreville. Mr. Schoeneman is solid but has offered no compelling rationale for unseating Mr. Bulova, whose sensible stances on transportation and education make him worthy of reelection.
DISTRICT 38: First-term Democrat Kaye Kory of Fairfax’s Annandale area won against tough opponents in both the primary and general elections and did so without our endorsement. This time around, she has it, in part due to her earnest efforts to reflect constituent views on school discipline policy and in part because she has no credible opponent.
DISTRICT 39: Democrat Vivian E. Watts, who represents the Springfield and Newington areas of Fairfax, is a seasoned legislator and a bona fide expert on regional transportation issues whose popularity and strong record seem to have deterred serious opponents from running against her. She has had our endorsement in the past and has it again this year.
DISTRICT 40: Republican Timothy D. Hugo is the incumbent in this district, which sprawls from Gainesville in Prince William to Clifton in Fairfax. After a decade in Richmond, Mr. Hugo has risen to the No. 3 spot in the House leadership, a position he has used to block solutions for the state’s crumbling road network. He has advanced an agenda bashing illegal immigrants, among other things by sticking his nose into local matters such as a day laborers’ center in Centreville, which cost no state or local money. Alas, his only opponent is Dianne L. Blais, an independent whose relative lack of experience and narrow focus on a single issue — redistricting reform — mean she is not a viable alternative. We make no endorsement.
DISTRICT 41: Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn, formerly a lobbyist for Virginia on Capitol Hill, won a special election last year and deserves to be returned for a full term representing the Burke area of Fairfax. She’s fought for legislation to expand those eligible for protective orders to include people in dating relationships. Libertarian Mike R. Kane is no match for Ms. Filler-Corn.
DISTRICT 42: Once upon a time, Republican David B. Albo, an astute lawyer who heads the House Courts of Justice committee, was an effective deal-maker who occupied his party’s center ground. As the GOP has moved rightward, Mr. Albo, after 18 years in the legislature, has moved with it. Now he is an advocate, and often a champion, for permissive gun laws and legislative assaults on undocumented immigrants that would turn Virginia into a mid-Atlantic version of Arizona or Alabama — and tie the state up in litigation. We doubt that would sit well with his constituents in southern Fairfax. Mr. Albo’s Democratic opponent, J.R. “Jack” Dobbyn Jr., a consultant, is a well-meaning political neophyte. We make no endorsement.
DISTRICT 44: John D. Barsa, the Republican challenger, is a straight-talking businessman who has distanced himself from the prevailing view in his party by his openness to higher taxes to pay for better roads. That’s sensible, but neither he nor an obscure independent candidate has offered a strong argument for throwing out the Democratic incumbent, Scott A. Surovell. Mr. Surovell, a politically astute freshman, is a lawyer who’s been a strong advocate for revitalizing Route 1, which threads through this southern Fairfax district. He also passed useful legislation protecting consumers who hire home energy auditors.
DISTRICT 48: Robert H. Brink, the seven-term Democratic incumbent, should be a shoo-in in this heavily Democratic district running along the Potomac through Arlington and into McLean. A moderate lawyer who’s pushed bills to make government run more efficiently, he faces token opposition from challengers Kathleen D. Gillette-Mallard, an independent with Tea Party ties, and Janet Murphy, an Independent Green candidate.
DISTRICT 52: Incumbent Democrat Luke E. Torian, pastor of a thriving church in Dumfries, must woo a swath of new voters in this redrawn district that tracks Interstate 95 through Prince William, including Dale City. He expects his advocacy for bringing Metrorail to Prince William will resonate with them — though that’s a ways off, at best. Still, Mr. Torian has spent most of his freshman term tending to more immediate concerns, such as helping small businesses, while businessman S. Cleveland Anderson, his Republican opponent, has dodged questions and offered more slogans than specifics.
DISTRICT 67:James M. LeMunyon, the incumbent Republican, is one of the more serious and independent-minded freshmen in Richmond. Granted, Mr. LeMunyon, who works for a Washington lobbyist, has pushed some gimmicky initiatives, including a measure that would permit the repeal of federal legislation if it falls afoul of two-thirds of states. But he has also been a credible voice for good and open government, and he rejects anti-tax pledges that would hamstring the state’s ability to meet critical needs. His Democratic challenger, Eric E. Clingan, a lawyer, is a decent candidate but unlikely to be as effective an advocate for this district in western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun.
DISTRICT 87: Two political novices face off in this newly drawn district, which includes a chunk of eastern Loudoun and a snippet of northern Prince William. Anti-diabetes advocate Mike D. Kondratick, a Democrat, is unseasoned but promising. He’d be a better choice than businessman David I. Ramadan, a Republican who favors across-the-board spending cuts — including, presumably, for education programs — to shift funds to infrastructure. That would hurt public schools and gut important programs in a state already reeling from budget cuts.