"Republican" may no longer be a bad word in District 13-B, which includes southern and eastern Howard County, but you won't find that party affiliation in Marty Madden's campaign literature.
Madden, 41, a Clarksville insurance agent, and his fellow Republican contender, John S. Morgan, 26, an engineer at Applied Physics Laboratory, have emerged as two of the GOP's most likely hopes for snatching a seat away from entrenched Democrats in the Nov. 6 general election. Both are competing for the two seats open in the district.
"You should vote for the person, not for the party," said Madden of his party-less literature.
Madden and Morgan have tried to pin growth-control problems on incumbent delegates Robert J. DiPietro, the former Laurel mayor who ran Gov. William Donald Schaefer's 1986 campaign, and William C. Bevan, a retired educator who has served two four-year terms as delegate.
With the backing of other GOP legislators and fund-raising that goes back to Madden's first try for a delegate seat in 1986, the challengers' efforts have been criticized as "negative and deceptive" by DiPietro.
"Mr. Madden and Mr. Morgan, should they win this election, are going to be in for a culture shock when they get to Annapolis," said DiPietro, who took office 10 months ago after being appointed to succeed resigning Delegate Susan Buswell.
In Annapolis, he explained, they will discover that not much is accomplished by those who are quick to criticize.
The most vocal of the two Republicans is Morgan, who called DiPietro "the developer's representative in Annapolis" because of his development business in Prince George's County. Morgan criticizes rezoning that helped developers in Laurel during DiPietro's two terms as mayor.
DiPietro said he is working toward stronger growth controls, including the creation of regional districts to control planning, transportation and solid waste disposal and recycling.
Both Republicans, who are coordinating their campaign efforts and sharing $4,000 from a GOP legislative political action committee, have criticized county council members for accepting campaign contributions from developers, and they support legislation to put a stop to it.
They criticize their opponents for voting against legislation that would have excluded county council members from voting on their contributors' zoning decisions.
But both incumbents say the legislation had a loophole that allowed council members to benefit from developers' contributions if they were on a slate with the county executive or legislators.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on there," DiPietro said.
Bevan said that he voted against a similar measure in 1989 for the same reasons, and met vehement opposition from Prince George's County senators when he unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill to include all elected officials.
Morgan is the only candidate among the four who pledges to vote against any kind of tax increase, while his colleague rules out all but a gasoline tax hike to pay for mass transportation improvements such as adding cars to the MARC commuter rail that runs between Baltimore and Washington.
Madden and Morgan oppose abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or where the mother's health is at stake. They also would support a parental notification requirement for minors seeking abortions. Both added that they believe the state's abortion laws should be decided by a statewide referendum.
Both incumbents say they are pro-abortion rights and favor doing away with state abortion restrictions voided by the Supreme Court. Those laws could be revived if the more conservative court overturns the landmark Rowe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortions.