Maryland voters are getting tired of decades of relentless growth and the perceived inability of incumbents to deal with it. This is the unmistakable message of Tuesday's primary elections.
The stunning upset of Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer by long-time Councilman Neal Potter sends an easily understood message to every incumbent official. Isn't anyone safe any more? Just a few weeks ago, a confident Mr. Kramer hinted at gubernatorial aspirations. Today he's out of a job, the loser in a contest over growth waged by a dark-horse who cashed in on public resentment over gridlock and crowded classrooms.
In Baltimore County, Councilmen Norman Lauenstein and Dale Volz were defeated by newcomers who harnessed east county residents' dissatisfaction with things as they are. In Dundalk, Donald Mason wrestled the Democratic nomination from Mr. Volz by focusing on property taxes and governmental spending. In the rapidly developing Perry Hall-White Marsh-Essex district, Vincent Gardina ran on a comprehensive anti-growth and environmental platform to defeat Mr. Lauenstein, the council's longest-serving member. Meanwhile, Councilman Ronald Hickernell barely hung onto his Catonsville district seat. Again, a key issue was growth.