Serves as a lesson to candidates in 2005 races.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Political observers across Virginia watched Tuesday\’s special election as a portent of things to come in the Commonwealth.

Paula Miller\’s victory over Michael Ball by about 90 votes is being blamed on the tax issue.

"Michael Ball thought he could finesse the tax issue," said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "He thought he could win anti-tax voters while not taking a firm stand either way. But the voters were burned badly last spring – Gov. Warner promised to oppose tax increases when he ran for office, but he proposed a billion dollar tax increase; 34 Republican legislators ran on anti-tax platforms, but then voted for an even bigger tax increase. They won\’t trust someone who is sitting on the fence about taxes. They demand that a candidate make clear his position."

As elections for the House of Delegates approach, strategists on both sides of the aisle are trying to position their candidates for gains. In light of last spring\’s record tax increase, and the current budget surplus, the biggest question of the campaign seems to be solidifying: was the tax increase justified, and maybe more tax increases are needed; or was the tax increase unnecessary and destructive, and future tax increases should be off the table.

"Candidates for election to the House of Delegates should take notice," Norquist continued. "Several incumbent Republicans who voted for the tax increase will be challenged in the primaries, and open seats will be hotly contested. With the biggest tax increase in history in the front of their minds, and with a billion dollar surplus reminding them of their tax overpayments, voters will demand to know where the candidates stand.

"And candidates who do not stand firmly with the taxpayers cannot count on their base. They will face unified opposition by big-spenders, but only lukewarm support from their natural friends. Candidates who want to win this year should sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and make an anti-tax message a central theme to their campaign."