- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2002

Republicans in Northern Virginia are divided over the sales-tax referendum and how its outcome in November will affect the party's long-term success.
"This is an issue that not all Republicans agree on, but not all Democrats agree on either," said Delegate Jeannemarie Devolites, Fairfax Republican and a leading supporter of the referendum. "Once the election is over, this is not the type of issue that will be dividing us."
But Republican grass-roots activists many of whom oppose the measure said there will be no going back after the Nov. 5 vote on raising the sales tax to fund transportation in Northern Virginia.
"I support Republicans as long as they support cutting taxes. But if they are not going to do that, who cares?" said Kevin B. Allen, a political consultant from Reston who opposes the referendum.
Voters in nine Northern Virginia jurisdictions will decide Nov. 5 whether to increase the sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent. Over 20 years, the referendum would be expected to generate $5 billion for regional road and transit projects.
Businesses, various chambers of commerce and top elected Republican officials such as U.S. Sen. John W. Warner and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III have expressed support for the referendum.
Many referendum opponents say the state is not doing enough to ensure Northern Virginia gets its fair share of revenue from Richmond.
"They have to start looking at real solutions. Richmond has really messed up its spending," said Howie Lind of Falls Church. "And many people do not believe that all this money raised is going to stay in Northern Virginia."
James Parmelee, of the activist group NorthernVirginiaGOP.com, said the state party is pulling away from its roots. His group is starting phone banks, mailing fliers and posting signs.
"We will have been outspent 30-to-1, and we have all our elected officials going out and lobbying against us," he said. "There is no way in the world we should win this fight, but we will."
Many anti-tax activists pledged to run primary challenges next year against Republicans backing the tax.
Mrs. Devolites said she isn't worried. "We all had primary challenges last time around," she said, noting that the incumbents won with significant margins of victory.


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