CONTROL OF Virginia’s General Assembly, where Republicans hold a paper-thin majority in both chambers, turns on the outcome of a handful of races next Tuesday for the state Senate and House of Delegates. Several are in Northern Virginia, the state’s most diverse and economically vibrant region. At stake is legislation on issues that many Northern Virginians cite as critically important, including gun safety, abortion rights and funding for transportation. The following are our endorsements in three of the most closely fought races.

House District 40. The district, straddling Fairfax and Prince William counties, is represented by Republican Del. Timothy D. Hugo, a member of the House of Delegates since 2003. Mr. Hugo, who chairs the House GOP caucus, has systematically opposed exactly the sort of gun-safety measures that have broad support among Virginians, including requiring background checks for private firearms purchases. In the past, he also gained notoriety, including among fellow Republicans, for using campaign funds (read: special interest cash) to pay for daily expenses such as groceries, snacks and gas fill-ups. In addition, he impeded efforts to raise revenue to pay for road and other transportation improvements that would ease commutes for many of his own constituents.

His Democratic challenger, Dan Helmer, a West Point graduate who had a meteoric career as an Army officer, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be a major upgrade. Mr. Helmer, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and a former Rhodes Scholar, has stressed non-extreme gun-control measures such as universal background checks and red-flag laws that empower police, with approval from judges, to confiscate weapons from individuals who pose an imminent risk to themselves and others.

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House District 28. Democrat Joshua Cole, a thoughtful local pastor who lost a close race two years ago for this seat centered in Stafford County and the city of Fredericksburg, would make a fine lawmaker. He’s focused on boosting transportation funding, a key concern of area commuters, and has backed efforts to expand Medicaid in Virginia, thereby tapping federal funds to insure hundreds of thousands of low-income people. His Republican opponent, businessman Paul Milde, a former Stafford County supervisor, opposes Medicaid expansion and devoting more revenue to improving highways. Mr. Milde supported GOP legislators when they shut down a special legislative session on gun safety this year without discussing any bills. He also has a criminal record, with convictions for cocaine possession and accessory to burglary.

Senate District 13. The district, encompassing parts of Loudoun and Prince William counties, has been ill-served by the retiring incumbent, Republican Dick Black, who made it a pet project to pay obeisance to Bashar al-Assad, the brutal Syrian dictator.

An excellent replacement would be Democratic Del. John J. Bell, a two-term member of the House of Delegates and former Air Force officer respected in Richmond for his even temper and smarts. He would reflect the district’s views far better than Geary Higgins, the Republican candidate, a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, who opposed the mere study of new local gun regulations.

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