- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Virginia Republicans kept their firm control of the House of Delegates, despite losing a couple of seats in yesterday’s elections.

All 100 House seats were at stake, and Republicans had won at least 57 seats, Democrats 39 and independents two.

Two incumbents — Richard H. Black, Loudoun County Republican, and W.B. Keister, Pulaski Democrat — lost their re-election bids. Democrat David E. Poisson of Sterling defeated Mr. Black, and Republican Anne B. Crockett-Stark of Wytheville bested Mr. Keister.

Democratic victories in the House were anticipated to serve as a referendum on Gov. Mark Warner, who had snagged approval ratings of more than 70 percent in statewide polls, and last year’s $1.38 billion tax increase he championed — the largest in Virginia history.

Small battles over immigration, transportation, education and taxes resulted in several closely watched races that left voters with stark contrasts between Democratic and Republican challengers.

One of the most surprising Democratic victories of the night was that of Mr. Poisson, a transportation candidate bankrolled by Mr. Warner, in Loudoun County’s 32nd District.

Mr. Poisson received 11,902 votes and Mr. Black 10,496, with 20 of 20 precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.

In Fairfax County’s 42nd District, Republican Delegate David. B. Albo, 43, defeated first-time candidate Gregory A. Werkheiser, a Democrat, by about 800 votes in a race that topped $875,000 in fundraising.

Mr. Albo won 9,589 votes and Mr. Werkheiser 8,832, with 15 of 15 precincts reporting.

Mr. Werkheiser, a lawyer in the District and former speechwriter for Mr. Warner, criticized Mr. Albo’s opposition to Mr. Warner’s tax increase. He also criticized Mr. Albo’s vow to bar illegal aliens from universities, voting booths and day-labor centers.

Meanwhile, Republican Chris S. Craddock, a 27-year-old youth minister, lost to Democrat C. Chuck Caputo in the contest for Republican Delegate Gary A. Reese’s 67th District seat in Fairfax.

Mr. Reese, who lost to Mr. Craddock in the June primary, backed Mr. Caputo.

Mr. Caputo received 10,636 votes and Mr. Craddock 7,787, with 18 of 18 precincts reporting.

Mr. Caputo vowed to extend Metrorail through the state and provide funding to help police combat gangs and drugs, while Mr. Craddock pledged to uphold lower taxes, less traffic, better education and “traditional moral values.”

In Prince William County’s 52nd District, $1 million race, freshman incumbent Jeffrey M. Frederick, 30, a Republican, was locked in a race with Democratic challenger and county Supervisor Hilda M. Barg, 72.

Mr. Frederick garnered 7,182 votes and Miss Barg 6,842, with 15 of 16 precincts reporting.

Mr. Frederick, who unsuccessfully urged Mr. Warner to call a state of emergency against illegal aliens this past summer and voiced disapproval of the tax increase, aligned himself with Mr. Albo and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore, supporting their calls for crackdowns on illegal immigration and transportation initiatives.

Fairfax County Democrats Dave W. Marsden, District 41, and Vivien E. Watts, District 39 incumbent, celebrated landslide victories over their Republican challengers by upward of 4,000 votes.

Mr. Marsden won 12,194 votes and Republican Michael J. Golden 8,312, with 15 of 15 precincts reporting in the contest to replace retiring Delegate James H. Dillard II.

Mr. Dillard, a Republican who supported the tax increase, endorsed Mr. Marsden, his former assistant, calling Mr. Golden’s pledge to roll back last year’s tax increase “too extreme.” Mr. Marsden said he will home in on crowded roads and universities.

Mrs. Watts received 11,433 votes, while political newcomer and Egyptian immigrant Michael J. Meunier, a Republican, got 6,590 votes, with 21 of 21 precincts reporting.

Mrs. Watts favors pro-choice legislation and federal immigration enforcement, while Mr. Meunier, 30, campaigned for tax relief for homeowners and he supports the immigration and transportation plans of Mr. Albo and Mr. Kilgore.

House Democratic leader Franklin P. Hall and Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian J. Moran issued a joint statement, saying they looked forward to working with Mr. Kaine.

“Our victories in districts drawn by Republicans for Republicans prove that you can gerrymander people into Republican districts, but you can’t force them to think like Republicans,” they said. “Our message of continuing the progress of the Warner administration by prioritizing our schools, roads, and public safety over simplistic sound-bite politics truly resonated with the voters of Virginia.”

House candidates spent a cumulative total of about $19.9 million this year on their campaigns, about $5 million more than the amount spent in 2001, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Christina Bellantoni in Richmond contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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