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November 2, 2006

Will Democrats Gain? - Part III

George Wenschhof

The races for the General Assembly in District 4 have received very little media attention and thus have not captured voter interest. This district is overwhelming Republican; in Frederick County the district wraps from Middletown across the northern half of the county to Mount Airy.

It also includes portions of Carroll County. Voters select one senator and three delegates, two from sub-District 4-A and one from sub-District 4-B.

The incumbent state senator is Republican David Brinkley, who is running unopposed. Mr. Brinkley has performed very effectively for his constituents. It would have been extremely difficult for any Democrat to offer a better choice for the voters.

He has shown his ability to work effectively in a Democrat-controlled legislature. He would be a good choice for all Marylanders to be the Senate's minority leader during the next four years.

In legislative District 4-A the candidates are incumbent Republicans Paul Stull and Joseph Bartlett and Democrat Maggi Hays, who was added to the ballot by the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee when no one filed to challenge the incumbents.

Mr. Stull, who has been a strong advocate for agriculture related businesses, is well respected and will be re-elected. Mr. Bartlett benefits mainly by name recognition. He is the son of popular 6th District Congressman Roscoe Bartlett.

Ms. Hays has been a long-term member of the county's Democratic State Central Committee. She has been very active in local party activities and offers a promising change in representation. However, her chances of winning are slim.

Incumbent Republican Del. Donald Elliott is opposed by Democrat Timothy Schlauch in District 4-B. Dr. Elliott recently received the endorsement of the Baltimore Sun. This is the second time on the ballot for Mr. Schlauch and it will be difficult for him to win.

The boundaries of District 3 include the City of Frederick, north to Yellow Springs, east to include Spring Ridge; southwest to Braddock Heights, Jefferson, and Brunswick then heads south to Buckeystown, Adamstown, and Urbana. There are also two heavily Republican precincts in Washington County

Here again, the voters elect one state senator and three delegates. The district is also divided with two delegates elected from 3-A and one from 3-B.

The incumbent state senator is two-term Republican Alex Mooney. I explored running for this office over a course of eight months. I had raised $15,000 which was considerably short of the $150,000 I felt was needed to finance a competitive race.

After fellow Democrat Candy Greenway filed for the Senate seat, I met with my campaign staff. Realizing we had not raised sufficient funds, we decided it would be best if I withdrew from the race and ask Democrats to unite around one candidate.

Ms. Greenway served on the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee for one term and has lived in Frederick for six or seven years. She has also experienced the difficulty in raising funds. Her total raised is less than $28,000, which includes a $5,000 loan with approximately $16,000 available as of the October 27 pre-general election financial report. Senator Mooney still had $121,000 on hand.

Ms. Greenway is also receiving financial support from Senate President Mike Miller's Maryland Democratic Senatorial Committee. This organization has already mailed three direct mail pieces and run multiple TV ads. These ads and direct mail items are all negative attack pieces - the same approach that backfired four years ago in the Sue Hecht versus Mooney campaign.

The direct mail that is being paid for directly from her campaign committee is primarily feel-good pieces to introduce Ms. Greenway to the voters.

This campaign has been significantly different from four years ago when Senator Mooney faced Delegate Hecht and the combined money spent by both candidates was well over a million dollars. Ms. Hecht was accused of negative campaigning and some of her supporters were disappointed in the direct mail sent in the last two weeks of that campaign. However, Ms. Hecht ran a strong campaign and received 45 percent of the vote.

Senator Mooney has been an ineffective state senator for the residents of Frederick and Washington counties over the last eight years - so much so that a poll of Annapolis regulars ranked him absolutely last - 47th out of 47 senators - in terms of effectiveness! Although this campaign has lacked any significant discussion of the issues, Ms. Greenway will benefit from the anti-Mooney sentiment. Senator Mooney enjoys name recognition and is a strong campaigner who will be hard to beat.

More voters are paying attention to District 3-A where two delegates will be elected. The incumbents are Galen Clagett (D) and Patrick Hogan (R). The other two candidates are Linda Naylor (R) and Ms. Hecht (D).

Here is an opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat if they can avoid discord among themselves. It has been rumored that the Hecht campaign has been encouraging supporters to single-shot the ballot - meaning supporters should vote just for her.

The direct mail pieces that Ms. Hecht has used in this campaign have also been primarily feel-good pieces, a radical departure from the approach she used during her campaign against Senator Mooney four years ago.

She has campaigned aggressively and if the slogan "When Women Vote, Democrats win" is correct, Ms. Hecht will be competitive.

Delegate Clagett has worked hard in his first term in Annapolis and has represented the voters well. He has earned and deserves another term in Annapolis.

The Republican House Committee created a stir when the negative direct mail piece they mailed attacking Delegate Clagett and Ms. Hecht's position on Eminent Domain backfired. Many local Republicans have publicly denounced this campaign piece.

Delegate Hogan and Linda Naylor quickly moved to distance themselves from this brochure as well. Mr. Hogan continues to have strong support and will be a very competitive candidate in this race.

Linda Naylor was previously elected to the Frederick County Board of Education in 2000, being the top vote-getter. Although many have discounted her chances in this race, they were the same naysayers six years ago. She most likely will come in fourth, but the number of votes separating the four candidates will be under 1500.

Incumbent Republican Delegate Rick Weldon is facing Democrat challenger Paul Gilligan in legislative District 3-B.

Mr. Gilligan lives in Burkittsville and operates a store in that town. He is also the former mayor there. He ran for this position four years ago and lost to fellow Democrat Lisa Baugher in the primary. He also has significant experience in Annapolis as an advocate for land preservation.

Delegate Weldon, however, enjoys strong bi-partisan support, has served the voters well and will win re-election easily.

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