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September 6, 2002

THE Race to Watch

Mike Kuster

The election year comes to a pivotal point on Tuesday with the primary elections for each of Maryland's two major parties. Those of us writing and commenting on this year's races have all commented on THE Race to watch.

It seems everyone was banking on the big showdown for the District 3 Senate seat between State Senator Alex Mooney and Delegate Sue Hecht. What better race to watch? The most skilled fund-raisers and politicians from each party going head-to-head should make quite a show.

Delegate Hecht, Frederick County's highest elected Democrat, has a big job in front of her. Senator Mooney is not only the most skilled fund-raiser among Frederick County Republicans, but among Maryland's Republican legislators.

This should have been the most exciting race to watch. In reality, its been a ho-hum race. Senator Mooney is enjoying life as a newly-wed and has been hard to find. Rest assured, he is campaigning, but not as one would expect. Delegate Hecht has been left with no sparring partner at the several forums.

Of course, neither candidate is opposed in their respective primary elections. Perhaps - and hopefully - things will heat up after Tuesday's primary election.

Meanwhile, THE RACE to Watch has been another Senatorial race. The Republican primary for the District 4 Senate seat pits three experienced elected officials against each other. Senator Timothy Ferguson, of Taylorsville, finds himself fighting Delegate David Brinkley, of New Market, and County Commissioner President David Gray, of Walkersville, to keep his seat (or at least the chance to keep his seat).

The greatest show is taking place between Senator Ferguson and Delegate Brinkley. Mr. Ferguson has adopted cartoon advertising to attack Mr. Brinkley. While others have found them distasteful, this writer finds them to be hilarious and reminiscent of last year's Democratic ads against Mayor Jim Grimes.

Delegate Brinkley's campaign returned to his roots in politics. We find him back in the saddle of his trusted steed waving to commuters. After the first cartoons ran, however, Mr. Brinkley quickly began exposing the hypocrisy of Mr. Ferguson's career in Annapolis.

The shots volleying back and forth between Taylorsville and New Market provide amusement for the entire county. The battle can be heard on the radio, seen in the newspaper, and felt all the way up to the governor's race.

Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Brinkley brought Republican gubernatorial candidate and Maryland's 2nd District Congressman Bob Ehrlich into the battle. Mr. Ferguson claimed to be endorsed by Congressman Ehrlich. Mr. Brinkley runs ads featuring himself and Congressman Ehrlich jogging in "very stylish" shorts. Congressman Ehrlich politely excused himself from the District 4 War of the Republicans without endorsing either candidate.

Interestingly, Commissioner David Gray seems to be the cloaked candidate. Like a stealth bomber, Mr. Gray is avoiding the radar of the warring factions within his party. Perhaps neither considers the gentleman from Walkersville a threat to their success. That would be a foolish mistake. While the battle wages, people may choose the non-combatant who has avoided slinging mud and running negative advertisements. When they least expect it, Mr. Gray may drop a bomb from above the battlegrounds this Tuesday. If so, chalk another success for stealth technology in warfare.

After Tuesday, THE Race to Watch will probably switch to the Senate Race down south. The winner in the District 4 War faces a Democrat who has not shown his face in Frederick County in months. There is little doubt that Tuesday will decide the next Senator from Maryland's District 4.

With the Primary Election over, Delegate Hecht and Senator Mooney will be cleared for their District 3 War. The two have a lot to debate. Will they d ebate? Will Senator Mooney be available for the war? If so, will the guns be firing as fiercely between Worman's Mill and . . . wherever Senator Mooney and his bride shall reside?

So far, the Hecht vs. Mooney race has been a bore. Let's hope things heat up! Otherwise, this may be the most boring general election in years.

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