A Tale Of Two Parties: Democrats, Gop Celebrate Alone

Tradition Is Broken After Two Decades

September 16, 1990|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER - Really, some of their best friends are Republicans.

But that didn't stop Carroll's Democrats from doing the traditionally bipartisan, primary-night shindig without Republicans for the first time in at least two decades.

Taking advantage of an offer of free use of the conspicuously more fancy Martin's Westminster catering facility, the Democrats this year decided to forgo the usual joint gathering at Frock's Sunnybrook Farm restaurant.

"It was terrific; people seemed real relaxed, real pleasant," said Greg Pecoraro, chairman of Carroll's Democratic Central Committee. "The atmosphere was great."

Contributing to the atmosphere Tuesday night were Martin's gold foil mirrors, crystal chandeliers and colored water fountains. The 20-foot ceilings and plentiful -- and real -- candles added touches all but impossible in the rustic confines of Frock's.

While this was no evening at the Waldorf Astoria, it was a night for celebrating, contemplating, and, in the case of a number of political old-timers, a yearning for the olden days of two-party parties.

"We've always had this at Frock's," said unsuccessful commissioner candidate William S. Sraver, obviously anxious as he stood by the colored water show, the chunks of cheese, the pretzels and a bowl of potato chips.

"I object to the split. You don't have the camaraderie here. I have a lot of Republican friends; some of them even campaigned for me."

Others echoed the sentiment, while some went into the evening with an open mind. Sheriff Grover N. "Sam" Sensabaugh, sipping a cocktail, was decidedly undecided on the ramifications of Tuesday night's gathering.

"I'll probably go on over to visit Frock's sometime tonight," he said.

The parting of the ways -- initiated by the Democrats -- will continue at least through November's general election. What happens after, is anybody's guess.

Talk of the split dominated conversation nearly as much as did predicting the night's winners.

And predicting winners was about all any of the more than 150 Democratic supporters could do for the reception's first two hours, without any returns from the Board of Elections.

"As soon as the numbers arrive, I'm out of here," an obviously campaign-weary Jeff Griffith said early on. He didn't get out of there, however, until several hours later when those numbers -- announcing a resounding win over state Senate primary opponent Francis X. Walsh -- finally made it to Martin's.

In between the political chatter, the victory celebrations and, for some, the reality of defeat, some big-time Carroll Democrats were able to pitch causes to a friendly and sympathetic audience.

One-time party chairman and long-time Westminster lawyer Charles O. Fisher Sr. worked the crowd with his proposal to change the county's form of government to home rule.

And just about every candidate under the sun was under the television lights in front of Martin's Terrace Room, being interviewed for Prestige Cable's live election coverage.

Not all at the catering center were running for office -- although with nearly 40 candidates, a good proportion of them were.

Supporters young and old, some in snazzy, double-breasted suits and others in the shortest of shorts, mingled, munched on Doritos and pieces of fruit, drank mostly soft drinks and talked politics.

There was even a woman wearing politics -- a Jeff Griffith for Senate bumper sticker plastered on her, well, rear bumper.

Some supporters kept their favorite candidates company from start to finish, while others had to wait for theirs to show up. After all, Elmer C. Lippy Jr. -- the night's top vote-getter in the commissioner's race -- had a nearly two-hour Manchester Town Council meeting to run.

The delayed entrance brought a new twist to Lippy's campaign slogan, "No Elmer-come-lately."

"It kind of grows on you, don't you think?" he said.

Asked where the phrase came from, Lippy pointed to his head, apparently proud of the slogan's staying power.

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