At least two upset winners in Democratic primary contests in Baltimore County have decided to stay independent of any party ticket headed by Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen in the November general election.
County Council nominee Donald Mason, who ran a strongly anti-Rasmussen campaign to beat incumbent Dale T. Volz, D-7th, said yesterday that he will not run in the general election on Rasmussen's party ticket.
Neither will Democratic state Senate nominee Janice Piccinini, who said, "I'm going my own way. I've got to take care of me." Piccinini beat Sen. Francis X. Kelly in the north county's often Republican voting 12th legislative district. Although she ran on the abortion issue, that district gave birth to a strong anti-property tax, anti-Rasmussen movement this year.
The delicate process of forging new alliances after sometimes bitter election battles and equally bitter losses has begun already, but only a few decisions have yet been made. For Democratic candidates in some parts of Baltimore County, it's a particularly delicate process after a strange low-vote primary that revealed a strong strain of anti-incumbent sentiment.
The undercurrent of anti-Rasmussen sentiment among the voters may also lead several Democratic candidates to keep their distance from the executive, even though he is favored to win a second four-year term over former school board president Roger B. Hayden, the Republican candidate for county executive.
Incumbent councilwoman Barbara F. Bachur, D-4th, is a good example. Her Towson district has elected her three times since 1978, but is also a strong Republican area. Two of the area's state delegates and the state senator are Republicans, and Bachur is facing a vigorous challenge from Republican attorney Douglas Riley. She said she hasn't decided yet what alliances to forge for the general election, but she may stay out of Rasmussen's camp.
The executive said yesterday that he plans to talk to "all the primary election winners," and said he has already placed calls to Mason and Vince Gardina, who upset 16-year council veteran Norman W. Lauenstein, D-5th, to offer his congratulations. He has not yet spoken to either man, however.
Gardina, who campaigned against too much development and resulting congestion in Perry Hall, did not run a strident anti-Rasmussen campaign. He said yesterday that he is not sure if he will run on a straight party ticket or remain independent. He is open to talks, he said, and will sit down with his area's state legislators next week to discuss it. Sen. Mike Collins of Essex, who is a strong Rasmussen backer, said he expects a straight Democratic Party ticket in Essex and hopes Gardina will join it.
The situation in Dundalk is by far the most difficult. Mason ran openly against Rasmussen, his campaign workers often urging voters to vote against "Taxmussen" as they entered the polls. But to be an effective public official, Mason will have to forge relationships with the administration and with other council members if he wins the general election, Rasmussen said yesterday.
L Mason is opposed by Republican nominee Lawrence Williams Jr.
At the same time, Mason's closest ally, Del. Louis DePazzo, is even more critical of the county executive than he is, and is also hostile to the other two delegates in the district. DePazzo said yesterday that he just wants to talk to the county executive. "Please, let's just sit down and talk," he said, adding that he has been trying to talk to Rasmussen for four years, but to no avail. The executive denies that he has refused to speak to DePazzo.
Mason said he's not sure what to do about his legislative alliances yet. "Everybody's taking a breath right now," he said.