The first is who to vote for in my Congressional district (Virginia - 11th District). While I generally agree with the incumbent, Democrat Gerry Connolly, I have a lot of qualms about his style of interaction with constituents. I suspect that reflects his style of interaction within the House of Representatives and I don't think that aggressive, in-your-face way of dealing with people is a good way to get things done.
His Republican opponent, Chris Perkins, seems less unreasonable than the usual Virginia Republican. (I should note that Connolly's predecessor was Tom Davis, the last of the moderate Republicans. I voted for him before he retired and would happily do so again.) My qualms about Perkins are threefold: 1) he has taken a position against Obamacare, 2) he seems to be in line with the dominant Republican view on the economy, and 3) about all he has no zero nada zilch political experience. He has taken pro-choice and pro-gay rights views, which puts him at odds with his party (and in line with my views). But all of his advertising emphasizes one thing and one thing alone - that he is a retired Army colonel. I am offended that he uses that experience to claim that anybody who points out his lack of political experience is anti-military.
There are 4 additional candidates. I was able to quickly dismiss Mark Gibson, largely because the gist of his platform is elimination of the income tax deduction for mortgages. Capping the deduction is reasonable, but eliminating it hurts the middle class. I say that not just because of the likely impact that would have on housing prices, but because the mortgage deduction encourages home ownership, which contributes to stable communities.
The comes Christopher DeCarlo who claims to be a Jedi master and wants to "use the Force and rap videos to battle political corruption." Amusing, but I prefer to vote for adults.
That leaves Peter Marchetti of the Independent Green Party and Joe Galdo of the Green Party. I admit ignorance of this apparent schism amongst the Greens. Marchetti's website gives no information about his positions. Galdo, however, seems fairly reasonable. I think he is too far to the left economically (just as I think Perkins is too far to the right).
So here's the deal. Of the major party candidates, Connolly barely squeaked out a victory against his previous Republican opponent. But that opponent (Ken Vaughan) was a neanderthal. Perkins is less dangerous than most Republicans and, since the House is likely to be Republican dominated regardless of what happens here, I wouldn't consider it the end of the world if he were to win. So the risk of a third party vote impacting the outcome is less horrible than it might otherwise be. And I think that starting with lesser offices is a good avenue for third parties to take. I have not made up my mind to vote for Galdo, but am seriously contemplating it.
The other thing I am torn about is a vote on a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution to limit taking property by eminent domain only to public use, not economic improvement. The principle involved is one I strongly believe in. And, in fact, it is what the current law in Virginia is - but is not constitutionally enshrined. That's where my uncertainty comes in. In general, the difficulty of modifying the constitution makes me favor using the legislative process when possible. I am still inclined to vote "yes" on this, but could be swayed by a good argument.