State House of Delegates gets new look for 1991

On Maryland Politics

November 14, 1990|By Peter Kumpa

THIRTY-SIX familiar faces will soon be gone. That's how many state delegates will be missing from the General Assembly when it opens its 1991 session in January. The total is nearly a quarter of the membership of the House of Delegates.

The new body will have 10 more Republicans, which will still leave the Democrats with a comfortable 121 to 20 majority.

By far the longest part of the casualty list is due to the voters. Nine delegates lost in the primary, eight lost in the general election and another five ran for other offices, from Congress and the state Senate down to the Montgomery County Council.

The Democratic primary proved once again to be the toughest hurdle for incumbents. Delegates who lost included such old-timers as Samuel C. Linton, a four-termer from Charles County, Terry Connelly, the 12-year veteran from Baltimore County, and C. Lawrence Wiser of Montgomery County, whose interrupted legislative career included a term in the Senate.

Others who fell in the primary included William A. Clark, Philip Foster, Carolyn Howard, Mary T. Johnson, Joseph (Sonny) Minnick and David Shapiro. Minnick figured for the toughest luck of 1990 after he lost to House Majority Leader John Arnick by a mere six votes.

It was a sign of the times that not a single Republican lost who ran for re-election from the House or Senate, either in the primary or in the general election. It was the best of times for GOP incumbents.

Eight Democrats fell in the general election, however. One the major upsets was the loss by William H. Cox Jr. of Harford County, the House majority whip and a leadership stalwart. He had been a delegate for 19 years. Harford voters also dropped Joseph V. Lutz, vice-chairman of the Economic Matters Committee.

GOP surges seemed to account for losses by William C. Bevan, William J. Burgess, Robert DiPietro, Donna Felling and Royd Smith. But in the case of Michael Gisriel, it was a high-profile, high-energy, high-spending Democrat, Gerry Brewster, that spelled a narrow defeat.

For the dozen or so ambitious delegates who wanted to move up, the odds were about even. Seven successfully made the leap. But the jump to Congress seemed too big for Democrat Barbara Kreamer and Republican Richard F. Colburn, who both lost their respective primaries for the 1st District congressional

seat. At least they were on the right track; Rep. Roy Dyson eventually was roundly turned out by voters.

A safer way for a delegate to advance was to run for state senator. Out of the seven who tried that jump, five made made it: Mary Boergers, Ralph Hughes, Gloria Lawlah, Patricia Sher and Donald Munson, the lone Republican of the group. The two losers were Democrat Juanita Miller, who was defeated in the primary, and John Leopold, beaten in the general election.

Del. Eileen Rehrman took a giant step forward with a narrow victory as Harford County executive. Anne MacKinnon found a place on the Prince George's County Council while Judith Toth, who spent two years wavering over resigning from the House, failed to make the Montgomery County Council.

A small number, seven in all, bowed out of politics completely. The retirees included House Speaker Pro Tem Dennis Donaldson, John Ashley, Donald Hammen, Donald Lamb, Shirley Pilchard and George Schmincke. Daniel M. Long, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, was the seventh; he took a seat on the state Circuit Court bench.

For House Speaker Clayton Mitchell, the toughest places to fill undoubtedly will be that of Donaldson, a trusted right hand and confidante, and Long, who ran Judiciary with a steady hand through a contentious legislative year.

There could be a general shuffle of committee assignments as a result of some of the old lineups that were shredded. The Economic Matters Committee, chaired by Del. Casper R. Taylor Jr., lost eight members, three of whom -- Boergers, Sher and Munson -- moved to the Senate. Three other House committees -- Ways and Means, Judiciary and Environmental Matters -- each lost six members.

The Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee had the smallest loss, just five members. And the GOP's modest increases in the House now will give it four members on each committee, enough to sway close votes in some cases.

Mitchell himself faces re-election as House speaker. There is no serious opposition to his leadership despite earlier rumors that Appropriations Committee Chairman Charles J. (Buzz) Ryan might be interested in the job. For the moment, Mitchell seems secure. His main problem will be finding some high-level help to run the House after the the loss of veteran lieutenants like Donaldson, Long and Cox.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.