- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

The two candidates for a House of Delegates seat representing Fairfax County were not members of the Virginia General Assembly during the historic tax fight last year.

Still, Dave Marsden, a Democrat, and Michael J. Golden, a Republican, will resume the fight at the polls next month.

Their race to replace retiring Delegate James H. Dillard II is one of several illustrating how Virginia Republicans and Democrats are refighting last year’s $1.38 billion tax package — the largest increase in the state’s history.

Voters will have to decide between anti-tax Republicans and Democrats who support the tax increase as their next representative in the state House.

Mr. Dillard, a lifelong Republican who last year bucked anti-tax leaders in his party to vote for that tax package, yesterday endorsed Mr. Marsden, his former assistant.

In June, Republicans nominated Mr. Golden, who campaigned as a staunchly anti-tax candidate.

Mr. Dillard, a 25-year House incumbent, is regarded by some in his party as a tax traitor. Yesterday, he called Mr. Golden a “partisan extremist” and a “one-issue candidate.”

“We all don’t like taxes, but his plan to roll back the budget that we passed in the last session of the General Assembly is simply irresponsible,” Mr. Dillard said.

Mr. Golden denies that he would “roll back the budget,” but said he opposed most elements of the tax package, which also cut taxes. He said he wasn’t surprised by Mr. Dillard’s endorsement of his opponent.

“We obviously have different views fiscally,” Mr. Golden said. “I’m confident with our message but it’s not one issue, it’s definitely not one issue.”

When pressed, Mr. Golden would not say whether he would vote to repeal the tax package if he were elected. He said the funding formulas are not fair to Fairfax County, which among jurisdictions in Virginia gets less money back for each dollar in taxes residents pay.

Mr. Marsden said voters face a “stark” choice, calling himself a candidate who would move the state forward and Mr. Golden as someone who would roll back progress. “I’m running to protect the critical funding made possible for education,” he said.

Mr. Marsden served as Mr. Dillard’s legislative assistant in Richmond and as his campaign manager. His campaign literature and his campaign Web site don’t mention his Democratic Party affiliation.

A host of Republican incumbents in Northern Virginia who opposed the tax increase face challengers in the Nov. 8 election. The Republicans say the tax package was not necessary because the state is yielding a large surplus.

Many of the Democrats challenging those anti-tax incumbents are supported financially by Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat who championed the tax package.

Democrats say the tax package offered needed funds for the state’s core education, public safety and health care services. Many of them also are calling for more funds to fix the state’s ailing roads system.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian J. Moran said yesterday Democrats are taking Mr. Warner’s message of “budget reform” statewide as they challenge anti-tax Republicans.

“We are emphasizing what the governor has done with respect to investing in education in a fiscally responsible way,” the Alexandria Democrat said. “They are committed to continued investment in Virginia’s future.”

Such opposing views are seen in races throughout Northern Virginia, including those involving Republican Delegate Richard H. Black and Democratic challenger David Poisson in Loudoun County; Republican Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick and Democratic challenger Hilda M. Barg in Prince William County; and Republican Delegate David B. Albo and Democratic challenger Greg Werkheiser in Fairfax County.

Some House Democrats who supported the tax increase also face challengers. Those races include that of Democratic Delegate Stephen C. Shannon who is facing Republican James E. Hyland in Vienna and Democratic Delegate Mark D. Sickles who is facing Republican Ron Grignol in Alexandria.

Shawn Smith, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, said House candidates are running each race on distinctly local issues, but noted the party philosophy that taxes must be kept low.

“The Republican Party believes that the best way to grow the economy and create jobs is to allow hardworking taxpayers to keep more of their own money,” he said.

Republican candidates last month promised to work to repeal the so-called “death” tax that’s imposed posthumously on the estates of millionaires and to offer tax credits for parents buying school supplies.

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