Contentious Senate Race Is Rematch Of 1986 Rivals Campaign Contributions And Abortion Are Key Issues

October 31, 1990|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

Four years have passed, but the District 14 Senate race is a rerun.

Once again, Republican Chris McCabe is challenging Democrat Edward J.

Kasemeyer for the Senate seat he holds in the district that includes Ellicott City, west Columbia, Clarksville, West Friendship and a portion of Montgomery County.

As in 1986, McCabe has spoken against what he sees as the growing power of lobbyists and special-interest groups on the legislative process, attacking Kasemeyer for accepting campaign contributions from political action committees.

And as he did four years ago, Kasemeyer says the criticisms are without basis.

"My opponent is the largest recipient of political action committee contributions of all the legislative candidates in Howard County," said McCabe, who said he has shunned PAC money.

McCabe estimates he will spend $40,000 on his campaign.

Kasemeyer doesn't view his acceptance of PAC money as a negative mark on his record.

"It shows the large number and the diversity of the people that support me," he said. "What I've been saying all along is that I have a very balanced approach in evaluating both sides of an issue and the reputation of being very independent."

Kasemeyer said he has received PAC contributions of no more than $1,500 each from the Maryland Psychological Association, the Maryland Association of Realtors, the National Abortion Rights Action League and Choice, a fund-raising group that supports candidates who favor abortion rights. He estimates his campaign has raised $50,000.

Kasemeyer also pointed out that if McCabe chooses to question his acceptance of PAC contributions, he should look more closely at his own campaign.

"He's had at least five $1,000 contributions from individuals," Kasemeyer said. "If you want to talk about undue influence, there's a greater risk of that from an individual who gives you a large sum of money than from PACs."

On the volatile issue of abortion, the two candidates differ significantly.

The Maryland chapter of the National Abortion Rights Action League, which supports Kasemeyer, has placed the District 14 race at the top of its priority list for the November election.

McCabe opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest or if the mother's health is in danger. He would also support a woman's right to an abortion if the unborn child had severe disabilities.

"I make some exceptions for gross deformities or deficits, but they would have to be very extreme," he said.

Kasemeyer supports a woman's right to an abortion until the fetus can survive outside the womb, as set out in the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision. He voted last year for an abortion bill that would have codified the decision, but the legislation failed following an eight-day filibuster by abortion opponents in the Senate.

McCabe, who lost to Kasemeyer by 2,913 votes in 1986, bills himself as an "independent thinker" who could challenge the Democratic-controlled legislature, something he claims his opponent hasn't been able to do.

"He is very much tied in to the Democratic leadership, tied into the president of the Senate and the governor of the state," said McCabe, 34, a development officer at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine.

He has also challenged Kasemeyer's record on the environment. In a political ad, McCabe makes much of the fact that the Maryland League of Conservation Voters gave Kasemeyer the lowest rating on environmental issues among 32 legislators in Howard and Montgomery counties.

McCabe says he would work to strengthen a state law that requires counties to recycle 20 percent of their solid waste by 1992. He also favors incentives, possibly in the form of tax credits, to emerging recycling businesses that would create needed markets for recycled materials.

Kasemeyer says the conclusions of the environmental group cited by McCabe are misleading.

"I had voted for every single environmental initiative presented to the legislature," he said.

Kasemeyer said he supported bills to preserve non-tidal wetlands, ban phosphates and the pesticide carbofuran and encourage recycling.

He also said he helped an Ellicot City community group preserve 35 acres of open space slated for development. He said he worked with the developer and county and state officials so the county could acquire the parcel at a below-market price.

A mortgage banker with Mercantile Mortgage Co. in Baltimore, Kasemeyer, 45, served a term in the House of Delegates before winning his Senate seat in 1986. He has highlighted his experience in Annapolis and record of constituent service in the campaign.

The four-year seat carries an annual salary of $27,000 the first two years and $28,000 for the final years.

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