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July 27, 2006

Thinning The Herds

John W. Ashbury

In a little more than six weeks county voters will have the opportunity to make or break the future. There are so many candidates that you may need a combine to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some, however, simply need a good thrashing.

There are 18 Democrat candidates for the United States Senate and 10 more on the Republican side. That group will be pared down to two. Congressional Rep. Ben Cardin (D., 3rd) might have an advantage on the Democrat side because he will be listed first alphabetically. Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is the likely winner among the Republicans. There is a Green Party candidate who passes through the primary to the November 7 General Election.

In the race for the Sixth District congressional seat held by Roscoe Bartlett, there are two Democrats - both from Frederick County - vying for the chance to campaign all the way to November. Dr. Bartlett does have a challenger in the primary, but apparently it is of the token variety. Andrew Duck and Barry Kissin will have a tough row to hoe no matter which one survives September 12.

Tim Brooks and Hugh Warner are seeking to unseat Third District State Senator Alex X. Mooney. Mr. Brooks has considerable baggage to carry, thus weighing him down. Mr. Warner, on the other hand, is singing the one note samba - slots. There are numerous critical issues facing Maryland citizens, and it would appear that none of the Republicans on this primary ballot will have much say in solving them.

Candy Greenway, the lone Democrat in the District 3 Senate race, is a newcomer, filing at the last minute, far too late in this campaign to have a real impact. She is personable and knowledgeable, but will likely face a major problem in fund raising. Mr. Mooney and his opponent four years ago - Sue Hecht - raised nearly $1.3 million; an outrageous sum to spend to gain a seat in the state Senate which then paid little more than $30,000 a year.

The District 3A delegate race, primarily in Frederick City, looks to be the most interesting of the House contests in Frederick County all the way through to November. Incumbent Democrat Galen Clagett kowtowed to the leadership too often during his first term in Annapolis, abandoning a career-long independent streak. Republican Patrick Hogan studiously prepared himself for the job at hand, making no waves along the way. Both, however, appear to be on solid ground among metropolitan Frederick residents.

Challenger Linda Naylor, a Republican who was the top vote getter in the 2000 race for the first elected Frederick County Board of Education, has been campaigning since last year, going door-to-door at every opportunity. It is a tactic that lead to her earlier success.

Former Delegate Hecht is trying to regain her seat in the House after a stinging defeat four years ago at the hands of Senator Mooney. She will garner votes of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and numerous women's and charitable groups. But the question remain, will it be enough to remove the stain of 2002.

Del. Rick Weldon (R., 3B) didn't have an opponent in either the primary or general election until three days before the filing deadline. His Republican opponent is a newcomer to Brunswick, having lived there for less than two years. He is a veteran of a 2002 campaign for the State House while in Montgomery County; but Mr. Weldon's popularity throughout the district is well known and likely to carry him through to November easily.

In early June, Paul Gilligan, former mayor of Burkittsville, appearing on Cable 10's Pressing Issues program, said that somebody would have to be crazy to run against Mr. Weldon. Well, on July 3 Mr. Gilligan labeled himself by filing to run against Mr. Weldon. He lost a primary contest four years ago to a relative unknown in Lisa Baugher.

While it would appear that Mr. Weldon has an easy path to a return trip to Annapolis, he doesn't think so and is gearing up an aggressive campaign designed to tout his accomplishments in Annapolis.

The Democrats were unsuccessful in talking anyone into running against Delegates Paul Stull and Joe Bartlett before the filing deadline, although they made a valiant effort with a couple of people. Maggi Hayes, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee and a resident of Walkersville, jumped into the fray after July 4th, apparently to help state party boss Terry Lierman keep his promise to challenge for every seat in the General Assembly.

Mr. Stull is one of the most popular people in the county - has been for a generation. He is almost certainly assured of victory. Delegate Bartlett has his father's machine behind him, and his wife is her father-in-law's campaign manager this year. And you can never discount the advocacy of Ellen Bartlett on behalf of her son.

The District 4 Senate race, where David Brinkley reigns, isn't likely to generate much interest. His opponent, while a councilman in Taneytown, is totally unknown in Frederick County where 75 percent of the district's voters live. Senator Brinkley must be doing something right as he was able to defeat an incumbent senator four years ago in a three-way primary. He received 52 percent of the votes cast.

Dr. Don Elliott, who represents just one precinct in Frederick County, is the senior member of the county's delegation to Annapolis. His primary opponent has tried before and come up short. That's likely to happen again.

We'll tackle the other races later, particularly the contest for county commissioner, where 19 are seeking the five seats. Party doesn't seem to be a major part of the winning equation here, but the contest has already become brutal with accusations flying - aimed primarily at incumbents and those viewed as pro-growth.

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