Victims of voters' ire include Rasmussen

November 07, 1990|By Doug Birch

Election Day turned into open season on incumbents in Maryland as angry voters headed to the polls to bag elected officials they blamed for runaway spending, rising taxes and a weak economy.

Among the victims of the voters' mad-as-hell mood were two prominent and powerful Democratic incumbents: Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen, who lost decisively, and Howard County Executive Elizabeth Bobo, whose fate hung on the counting of absentee ballots.

Anti-incumbent feelings may have helped smash Representative Roy P. Dyson's hopes of surviving the lingering whiff of scandal and a strong GOP challenge. And voter discontent appeared to hurt Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who still managed a sizable victory against William S. Shepard.

Republicans cashed in on the discontent, winning Mr. Dyson's 1st Congressional District seat and coming from behind to win the Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County executive races.

At least seven -- and possibly as many as nine -- members of the House of Delegates and two state senators, all of them incumbent Democrats, met defeat last night, according to unofficial returns. Seven incumbent county council members in the Baltimore area were also defeated.

A GOP candidate mounted a strong challenge in the Harford County executive's race but apparently fell short.

The seismic shift in voting patterns meant that Republicans Roger B. Hayden in Baltimore County, Charles I. Ecker in Howard County and Robert R. Neall in Anne Arundel County were poised to capture the top elective offices in three of the four Baltimore-area counties with charter government.

"It's a great day to be a Republican, and it's probably even a greater day to be an outsider," said David A. Blumberg, the head of Baltimore city's Republicans. "And in this state, Republicans have always been outsiders."

Two incumbent Democrats lost in a single Howard County district: Delegates Robert J. DiPietro, a former mayor of Laurel, and William C. Bevan.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard, seemed likely to lose to a challenger he defeated four years ago. Western Maryland Sen. Patricia K. Cushwa also lost to Republican Donald F. Munson in the race for the District 2 seat.

Delegate Joseph V. Lutz, D-Harford, vice chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, and Delegate William H. Cox Jr., D-Harford, a veteran legislator who focused on horse-racing industry issues, were both defeated.

In Baltimore County, Delegates Donna M. Felling, William J. Burgess and Michael Gisriel lost their bids for re-election.

Three of seven incumbents on the Baltimore County Council lost -- Barbara F. Bachur, D-4th, Ronald B. Hickernell, D-1st, and William R. Evans, D-6th.

In Howard County, Councilwoman Angela Beltram, D-2nd, was defeated. Two incumbent Democrats on the Harford County Council -- J. Robert Hooper, District D, and G. Edward Fielder, District E, also lost.

In Anne Arundel County, veteran Councilman Edward C. Ahern Jr., D-District 3, was decisively beaten.

Incumbents suffered from the mercurial mood. Some contestants for empty seats found themselves in roller coaster races.

Mr. Neall, the former Republican state legislator running for Anne Arundel County executive, had trailed in the polls against County Councilman Theodore J. Sophocleus, but appeared to be the winner last night.

Like many voters, Charles Smith, a 57-year-old construction worker, came to the polls at Randallstown Senior High School in Baltimore County looking to fire some complacent politicians.

"I wanted to get them all out," he said. "I'm just fed up with all of them. It's at the point where it's getting ridiculous. Get them all out. Put everyone new in."

"I'll be honest with you -- I hate them," said Max Hoffman, a 64-year-old coffee plant manager and registered Democrat from Perry Hall. Janelle Cousino, director of the Maryland Citizens Action Coalition, said Monday that her group had made 900 phone calls on behalf of two candidates in Howard County. About 10 percent to 20 percent of the people called, she said, said they would vote for anyone but an incumbent.

Congress' long and confusing struggle to come up with a compromise federal budget also hurt local incumbents, she said, even though they had nothing to do with it.

"Frustration with how the budget was handled in Congress, I think, sort of paints everybody with the same broad brush of incompetence," she said.

Some of those disgruntled anti-incumbent voters pulled the levers for challengers in every race. Some spared a few favorites, mostly Republicans.

"I voted against every goddamn one of them except (2nd Congressional District Republican Helen Delich) Bentley," said Thomas C. Selway, 74, a retired Martin Marietta worker from Perry Hall.

jTC

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