The only local race Loudoun voters will see on June 11 ballots will in the 33rd House of Delegates where incumbent Del. Joe May faces a challenge from David LaRock for the Republican nomination.
LaRock has cast himself as the true conservative, attempting to place the moderate moniker on May, who considers himself a practical, yet true, conservative.
May points to his record and so does LaRock, calling May weak on taxes, guns and abortion.
“Joe and I are just very, very different,” LaRock said during a recent interview. “Joe’s a self-proclaimed moderate, or at least he was until fairly recently, and this is a fairly conservative district.”
May said he worked to legislate in a way that maintains his conservatism, but moves the state forward.
“I feel I’ve been an effective representative of the people of my district over the years and I’d like to have the opportunity to represent them over the next two years,” he said.
LaRock pointed specifically to May’s votes to raise taxes twice in the past 10 years. “I’m a low-tax conservative,” LaRock said. “Joe’s a tax-hiking man.”
May said those votes – one about a decade ago another this year – both came at times when needs were falling behind, first education, and then transportation.
“Education had reached a critical funding level,” May of his earlier vote to increase education revenue. “Most reasonable people would agree education is vital in our commonwealth.”
Then on this year’s support for a $6 billion transportation deal, May said, “Nobody would argue that Northern Virginia doesn’t have a critical transportation issues.”
LaRock said he agrees, which is why he fought against the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line into Loudoun County, expecting to be complete around 2018. May said the Metro is key to providing a well-rounded transportation system.
“I can understand the debate from the opposition,” May said, but “most of concerns that I heard didn’t stand the test of logic. No project is an absolute perfect 100. I can say that transit and rail is going to be an integral part of our transportation system in the decades to come.”
LaRock has pointed to the heavy reliance on taxes and tolls to pay for the project.
“It’s about fiscal responsibility so resident won’t be overburdened with taxes,” LaRock said.
May countered that he wants to make sure the state meets its obligations, and transportation has fallen behind. Thousands of state bridges are considered deficient. And while a truck has been blamed for a recent bridge collapse in Washington, the incident raises concerns, May said.
“If that ever happened here, I don’t think anybody would complain about raising maintenance money,” he said.
LaRock said he’s concerned that Loudoun’s could end up paying to fix bridges elsewhere.
“We get very little of our money back,” he said. “Joe’s raising taxes and sending it to projects across the state,” he said.
This year’s transportation bill enables Northern Virginia to raise money to use in the region.
LaRock called May “soft on the Second Amendment” because the delegate voted to extend the one-gun-per-month law and
May said he grew up in a home with guns, has four in home now and has taken National Rifle Association shooting lessons with his wife. During a stint in the U.S. Army, May said, he carried an M-1 rifle.
“I’d say I’m adequately pro-gun,” May said, adding that he opposed the open carry of firearms in bars because “guns and alcohol don’t mix, in my point of view.”
As for his vote limited gun purchases, May said the legislation had served the state well for 20 years. In recent federal legislation proposed, including universal background checks, May said, “ I didn’t see anything that I could support.”
The issue that has consumed much of the attention in letters to the editor is abortion. May calls himself pro-life, but LaRock does not believe May’s stance goes far enough.
“I’m a constitutional conservative and I’m 100 percent pro-life,” LaRock said. “This is a woman’s issue. If women make decisions they later regret, it can have a detrimental effect.”
LaRock said he supported all versions of the ultrasound bill, which ultimately passed without the transvaginal probe requirement. He also supports a personhood bill that would declare a fetus a living person.
“I’m 100 percent pro-life,” May said. “I patently resent the characterization of being pro-choice.”
While he opposed the version of the ultrasound bill that included the transvaginal probe as a “personal invasion,” May supported the bill as amended by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“Virginia came out with an enormous black eye,” May said, referring to national attention about the original bill. “I would say in that case they were asking more than most people are willing to provide.”
As for the personhood bill, May said, “I voted against it for practical reasons.” For example, such move would cause uncertainty in terms of health care coverage for unborn children. May said he’s sympathetic to the cause, but does not believe it’s wise to make the amendment.
“I can think of a number of arguments in favor of it, but there are a number of practical arguments against it,” he said.
The campaigns also touch on an sign for a adult store in West Virginia that LaRock tore down last year.
LaRock has been married to his wife Joanne for 31 years; they have seven children and live in Hamilton. LaRock is a homebuilder.
May and his wife Bobby live south of Leesburg in the same home they’ve had for 32 years; they have two grown daughters and a son who died in 1994. May founded the technology company EIT.
[Correction: A question asked to both candidates referred to a "personhood bill" introduced in the General Assembly during this past session. The word "amendment" was incorrectly used to refer to the bill. The corrections are in italics.]