A Republican steering committee will choose Dr. Aris Allen's replacement to the House of Delegates tomorrow afternoon from a crowd of politically connected candidates.
Tonight, the Anne Arundel County Republican State Central Committee will probe backgrounds, political philosophies and ambitions of the 12 candidates vying for the District 30 seat.
"Being appointed to a vacancy is the easiest way to obtain an office," said Laura Green Treffer, central committee chairman.
"That's why we have to measure their commitment . . . beyond this opportunity. Where do they want to be three to six years from now?"
GOP officials want to retain the seat which Allen won in last November's election and the first held by a District 30 Republican since Allen leftthe Senate in 1981.
The 80-year-old delegate committed suicide Feb. 8 after learning he had terminal cancer.
"We not only don't want to lose this seat, we want to build on this," Treffer said. "To have 12 apply for this vacancy is an indication that the Republican Party is alive and well." The crowd contrasts sharply to last fall's campaign, when only two Republicans ran for the three District 30 seats. "That's a question that should be asked of the people (tonight)," Treffer said.
The field includes at least seven who have run for political office previously, including Phillip Bissett, a Mayo warehouseman, who ran for a District 30 seat last fall.
Bissett also is saidto be a favorite of County Executive Robert R. Neall. Bissett campaigned heavily for Neall during his 1986 congressional bid.
Among the others:
* Joan Beck, an aide to House Minority Leader Ellen Sauerbray, was elected vice president of the central committee in November.
* Louise Rothchild Beauregard, a self-described political consultant, ran for county executive in 1986.
* Fred Miller, an Annapolis businessman, sought a County Council seat in 1982.
* Stuart Morris, president of the Severn River Association and former president of the Greater Severna Park Council, ran for County Council in 1986 and won a third term on the central committee last November.
* Patrick Ogle, county under-sheriff, sought the GOP nomination for County Council last summer.
* Larry Vincent, an Annapolis clothier, was a candidate for mayor in 1989.
The remaining candidates are Greg Baldwin, formerly president of Baldwin Service Center in Annapolis; Dallas Evans, a businessman and chairman of the county's Planning Advisory Board; Mary Ellen Gardner, a former General Assembly employee; Rosemary Miller, a South River High School social studies teacher and author of a civics textbook; and John Rice, a banking consultant and past president of the Eastport Civic Association.
The central committee will interview the candidates at 6 p.m. in the Arundel Center's County Council chambers. Members will vote at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the GOP state headquarters on Forest Drive.
Central committee members, who repeatedly emphasized that they want to conduct the selection process as fairly as possible, have avoided discussing the candidates.
But Treffer said they have been deluged with recommendations from civic groups as well as elected officials, including Allen himself.
Allen had sent 20 letters to central committee members and other leading Republicans recommending Evans, who served as his campaign treasurer.
"I don't think it's appropriate for (elected officials) to take a 'favored son' position," said Delegate John Gary, R-Millersville. "But I think there are two obvious candidates."
Gary said Bissett "has run, made a strong effort at raising money and getting votes. And he has a strong base to get elected from after one term."
Evans -- who is supported by former U.S. Representative Marjorie Holt -- also was involved integrally in Allen's campaign, Gary said.
"We definitely want someone who can get out the vote," said Delegate Elizabeth Smith, R-Davidsonville.
The committee also should weigh the candidates' political philosophies, said Councilwoman Diane Evans, R-Arnold, adding that the ideal candidate would be fiscally conservativebut moderate on social issues.
"Dr. Allen fit that bill," Evans said. "That's why he was so popular."