County Commissioner J. Jeffrey Griffith failed in his bid for Carroll County's 5th District Senate seat last night, trailing Republican opponent Larry E. Haines last night in a contest in which abortion was a key issue.
Mr. Griffith, 46, of Eldersburg lost in Carroll County precincts by 10 percentage points and didn't pick up enough Baltimore County votes to overtake his opponent. A self-described liberal Democrat, Mr. Griffith said government should not intrude upon a woman's decision about childbearing.
Mr. Haines, 52, a conservative Westminster real estate agent, said he would limit abortions to rape, incest or life-threatening situations.
With Mr. Griffith running for the Senate and GOP Commissioner John L. Armacost declining a third term, Republican Julia Walsh Gouge was the only commissioner seeking re-election, and she became a lightning rod for voter dissatisfaction with county government.
While she was outvoted by Republican farmer Donald I. Dell and Manchester Mayor Elmer Lippy, a Democrat, she was clinging to her seat by drawing more support than Republican Richard T. Yates, a retired federal worker from Sykesville. With only a 501-vote lead, however, Mrs. Gouge's apparent victory could be reversed when more than 1,000 absentee ballots are counted.
A heated race for the House of Delegates also erupted in District 5A, where Democratic newcomer Ellen L. Willis accused Republican Richard C. Matthews, chairman of the county's delegation, of accomplishing little in his six terms.
But Mr. Matthews easily held onto one of the district's two seats; incumbent Democrat Richard N. Dixon won re-election to the other.
Incumbent Republican Donald B. Elliott easily defeated Democratic challenger William D. Henley Sr. for the House seat in District 4B.
In the state's attorney's race, incumbent Thomas E. Hickman was leading former prosecutor Jerry F. Barnes by only 525 votes.