ANNAPOLIS -- Saying the Maryland Senate is still one vote shy of the number needed to shut down an anti-abortion filibuster, a major abortion-rights group endorsed 15 candidates yesterday for election to the General Assembly Nov. 6.
Abortion-rights candidates won several big victories -- including wins in four hard-fought Senate races -- in the September primary. But Karyn Strickler, head of the Maryland affiliate of the National Abortion Rights Action League, said abortion-rights backers still need to elect two sympathetic senators to guarantee the 32 votes needed to cut off a filibuster.
Yesterday, Ms. Strickler said NARAL would make its top priority the re-election of Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard/Montgomery, who is running against Christopher McCabe, and the election of J. Jeffrey Griffith, a Carroll County commissioner running against Larry E. Haines.
Mr. Haines defeated Sen. Sharon W. Hornberger, an abortion-rights incumbent, in the Republican primary.
The abortion-rights advocates lost another vote when Sen. Catherine I. Riley, D-Harford, chose not to run for re-election.
"We won some tremendous victories in the primary," Ms. Strickler said. But with the loss of the Hornberger and Riley votes, abortion-rights groups are counting a net gain of only two.
"We're still down by one vote," Ms. Strickler said. "When we tell you the fight's not over, we really mean it."
NARAL, which raised about $40,000 for the primary campaign, has about $5,000 left to spend on the general election drive. In addition, Ms. Strickler said, the group will offer volunteers to help get out the abortion-rights vote.
Senator Kasemeyer, who attended yesterday's new conference, said he and his opponent take different stands on abortion.
"I think there's no question the people in Maryland feel the decision should be a private and personal one," he said.
Also at the news conference were Rosemary Glynn and Sally McGarry, both Democrats seeking election in Montgomery County's District 15. In that race, they said, incumbent Delegate Jean W. Roesser, who has opposed state funding of abortions for poor women, has been misrepresenting herself to voters as a supporter of abortion rights.
Ms. McGarry said the delegate is "trying to muddy the waters."
"She sees where the political heat is coming from and now she's changing her position," Ms. Glynn said.
But Delegate Roesser, reached later, charged that Ms. Glynn and Ms. McGarry "are misrepresenting my position."
"I'm not totally against abortion at all, as they would like to paint me," she said.
While saying she has defined herself as "pro-life" in the past, Ms. Roesser said that more than a year ago she announced she is "pro-choice in early pregnancy," supporting the right to abortion in the first trimester.
"This is really a very small part of the issues that we face," Ms. Roesser added. "It's important, but it shouldn't be the single focus. We've lost some very good [incumbents] in this primary because of this issue."
Delegate William C. Bevan, D-Howard/Prince George's, and Ellery Woodworth, a candidate for delegate from Baltimore County, also said they face candidates they believe are not clearly defining their position on the issue and thus misleading voters.
"I'm pro-choice with no buts," Mr. Woodworth said.
National Abortion Rights Action League slate
Here are the candidates endorsed yesterday by the Maryland affiliate of the National Abortion Rights Action League in the Nov. 6 election:
District 5, Baltimore and Carroll counties: J. Jeffrey Griffith, D.
District 9, Central Baltimore County: F. Vernon Boozer, R*.
District 14, Howard and Montgomery counties: Edward J. Kasemeyer, D*.
District 15, Montgomery County: Laurence Levitan, D*.
District 5A, Baltimore and Carroll counties: Ellen L. Willis, D.
District 8, Eastern Baltimore County: Donna M. Felling, D*.
District 9, Central Baltimore County: John J. Bishop, R*; Charles Culbertson, D; Gerry Brewster, D.
District 10, Central Baltimore County: Ellery Woodworth.
District 13B, Howard and Prince George's counties: William C. Bevan, D*, Robert J. DiPietro, D*.
District 15, Montgomery County: Gene W. Counihan, D*; Rosemary Glynn, D; Sally McGarry, D.
* Denotes incumbent.