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Friday, March 31, 2023
FairfaxOpinionEndorsements: Fairfax House of Delegates races

Endorsements: Fairfax House of Delegates races

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Two weeks ago, we endorsed Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th) for a new term in the House of Delegates, noting he was the only one among the House delegation covered by the Sun Gazette deserving support without reservations.

(We say this acknowledging that Sullivan is not always on the same side of the issues as the Sun Gazette. But that is not the defining rationale for our endorsements. We’d rather have competent, relatively open-minded lawmakers than those in lockstep with us or anyone else.)

Those two weeks back, we promised to return with opinions in the other legislative races in Sun Gazette-land. And here we are. Buckle up:

34th House District: We have always been somewhat tepid – nay, noncommittal – toward incumbent Kathleen Murphy. In many ways she’s a standard-issue, cookie-cutter Northern Virginia Democrat who seldom deviates from the party playbook. And she is no political backslapper; that is no sin, but we admit to having a soft spot for leaders who have a penchant for retail politicking. (Jim Moran, we miss you!)


That said, we fully acknowledge that Murphy, unlike some of her Northern Virginia brethren, actually makes an effort to listen to those with views that might be at variance with hers, instead of closing her mind to them. That’s about the best independents and Republicans can hope for from one representing local districts that are Democratic fortresses.

For her willingness to listen and for her thoughtful persona, we’re going with KATHLEEN MURPHY over Republican Gary Pan.

35th House District: For a while we thought we were the only ones who realized that Democratic Del. Mark Keam has a talent not to be pinned down on the political spectrum. When he’s talking to a liberal crowd, he’s gushingly progressive. When in front of a business audience, he touts his independent thinking and willingness to stand up to the more whackadoodle elements of his party.

What a disappointment to find out that everybody has noticed that about Keam over the years!

Yes, he’s chameleon-like. Yes, he plays both sides against the middle to convince everyone he has their best interests at heart. But heck, given that there are members of the Northern Virginia delegation who don’t even make that much of an effort, we have to say that Keam better represents a more sane approach to governance than many. And he certainly seems to be a nice guy.

Republican Kevin McGrath has landed some blows against the incumbent in this race, but has not done so with enough nuance for our taste. Instead, there are too many standard-issue talking points on issues ranging from taxes to education. Republicans in Northern Virginia need to find ways to get their candidates the political seasoning they need well before they run for office, so they are not forced to start from scratch and learn on the fly.

As was also the case with Kathleen Murphy above, our endorsement of MARK KEAM is more a case of “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” than of true political ardor. But it was enough to get them both over the finish line.

One final aside on this race: We haven’t forgotten, Del. Keam, that you sold out your Vienna constituents in abstaining rather than voting against the outrageous Democratic power grab forcing town elections to move to November rather than in their traditional, and proper, place in the spring.

We’re guessing the abstention, which had no bearing on the outcome, was simply to make sure the leaders within your own party didn’t get mad at you, but it was a sorry spectacle, indeed. Almost cost you this endorsement.

53rd House District: The thing that has always befuddled us about incumbent Democrat Marcus Simon is this: He runs a modest-sized business (one of far too few in Richmond to hold that distinction) yet he doesn’t seem to connect actions of government, particularly when in the hands of his party, with their real-world implications on business owners and their employees. He seems completely disconnected from cause-and-effect ramifications.

Maybe this is why the political-action committee of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce took the verrrrrrrrrry unusual step of endorsing an opponent of a sitting legislator this year. That body gave its support in the 53rd to Republican Sarah White. Ouch.

We like White. We think her voice in the currently all-Democratic local delegation might be beneficial to constituents in the district and beyond. Are we therefore willing to endorse her? We’ll let you know next week.

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