The 13th District House of Delegates race is easily one of the most-watched ever in the state. Bob Marshall, a right-wing Republican who has represented the area since 1991, faces perhaps his toughest challenge, from someone who couldn’t be more different philosophically and personally – Danica Roem, seeking to become the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature.

We have two requirements for endorsing a candidate. One is that if our editorial board asks to interview you, you have to show up. No interview, no endorsement.

Marshall declined our request for an interview, so needless to say he will not earn our endorsement.

But the fact of the matter is, as regular readers know, we’ve never been Bob Marshall fans. By now, he should be a powerful committee chairman, able to spearhead important legislation and direct projects to his district. Marshall’s right-wing antics, however, have so alienated even those in his own party that he has been reduced to a back-bencher.

According to statistics compiled by the Capital News Service, only two of the 15 bills that Marshall introduced during the 2017 legislative session were passed. His “batting average” of .133 was 88th in the 100-member House of Delegates, and the lowest among Republicans not named Rick Morris (resigned after being indicted) and Bill Howell (speaker of the House, who introduced only one bill). Among resolutions that he has introduced, he is also 1 for 15.

Baseball players who hit .133 are usually headed toward retirement, and we think that’s a great destination for Bob Marshall.

So we wanted to endorse Danica Roem. Heck, she’s a journalist. What more could we ask for?

Well, unfortunately, we have a second requirement for endorsing a candidate: Comport yourself in a manner appropriate to the office you seek. And, in that regard, Roem falls short.

She is very knowledgeable about many local topics, and her passion for improving Route 28 is evident. But at times she comes across as condescending, and her long-windedness will be a turnoff in a state legislature that has only a few weeks to debate hundreds of bills.

Roem also lacks experience, something we consider vital. Interviewing legislators doesn’t qualify you to be one, any more than being a sports reporter would qualify you to quarterback the Redskins. Were Roem running for the Board of County Supervisors or the School Board, she’d probably earn our support. But the state legislature? Nope, we just don’t think she’s ready yet.

So where does that leave voters in the 13th? We suggest this: If you’re tempted to vote for Bob Marshall, make sure you fully understand who he is and what he supports. If you’re tempted to vote for Danica Roem, be prepared for some growing pains.

(2) comments

Joseph George for Neabsco District

Many are ready for the "growing pains" that you refer to over ineffectiveness.

John Q Public

Comparing this editorial with the paper’s sister editorial: “House of Delegates endorsements in Prince William region” we find the 13th District incumbent, Delegate Bob Marshall, being measured by different criteria than his esteemed colleagues.

In the sister editorial the most significant factor noted in endorsing the various candidates was their accessibility to constituents. Well there can be no greater gauge of availability and accessibility than Delegate Bob Marshall’s habit of printing his PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER on every communication with his constituents, inviting them to contact him.

Obviously, that degree of openness begets the responsibility of being responsive to constituents’ concerns. And addressing the “kitchen table” concerns of his district is one of Delegate Marshall’s finest attributes, and that alone makes him worthy of re-election on November 7. Whether it be securing compensation for a landowner’s property damaged from the improper grading of a state road; or stepping into a small business’ dispute with the state Finance Department gaining the owner over $8,500 rightfully owed, to; obtaining previously denied health insurance coverage for adopted children, I find Bob Marshall is like a bulldog with a bone - persistent; relentless; dogged.

Another inconsistency in this editorial compared to the paper’s sister editorial: “House of Delegates endorsements in Prince William region” is the criteria of the number of proposed Marshall bills the House passed. No such data was provided for the other delegates considered. It should also be pointed out that this is the same naïve and misleading criteria used by Marshall’s opponent - Roem.

Just as the opinion piece inadequately employs but one statistic: a “batting average” on bills passed to evaluate Marshall, when determining a league MVP or a State Delegate one must look at a much broader set of facts. In truth proposing bills is but a fraction of the total responsibilities of a Delegate. The 2017 legislative session (which this year was only 46 days long) had over 2,900 bills introduced that delegates must review and consider, amendments to propose to improve bills, votes to cast on bills, amended and revised bills that must be re-considered, and on and on. And this is just his responsibilities during the legislative session. But a delegate’s duties don’t stop at the end of the session – he continues to work for his elect for the remaining 319 days of 2017.

No one is better at going to bat for his constituents than Delegate Bob Marshall. That is why you should vote for him on November 7.

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