Seeing U.S. Representative Tom McMillen waivering, state Delegate John Astle filed for the House of Representatives yesterday.
Astle, a helicopter pilot for a Washington shock trauma center, is the second Annapolis Democrat to enter the race for the new 1st Congressional District. Annapolis Alderwoman Ellen Moyer, D-Ward 8, filed last weekfor the March 3 primary.
McMillen has said that he is weighing his chances in the 1st District, which links much of the county with the Eastern Shore. The Democrat also is considering the 5th District, which includes parts of Prince George's, southern Anne Arundel and Southern Maryland.
"Tom doesn't deserve a chance to dance around," Astle said. "Someone has tohold his feet to the fire."
Moyer, a registered lobbyist for the Maryland State Teachers Association, has said she will withdraw if McMillen enters the race.
But, Astle said yesterday, "I'm in no matter what Tom does."
Democrat James Brown of Denton, in Caroline County, also filed yesterday. Eastern Shore incumbent Wayne T. Gilchrestwas the only Republican who has filed.
Astle, 48, was elected last year to his third four-year term in the Maryland General Assembly.
A member of the influential House Appropriations Committee, he also served as chairman of the county's 13-member House delegation from 1986 until last February.
A colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, he stepped down when he volunteered for active duty during Desert Storm. The native West Virginian was assigned to the Marine base in Quantico, Va.
The General Assembly carved up McMillen's Anne Arundel district, dividing the county among four other districts, when it redrew congressional boundaries last month. County political leaders filedsuit Tuesday asking a federal court to throw out the new districts.
County leaders are upset that Anne Arundel, which has elected its own congressman since the early 1970s, does not have a majority in any district. Nine Eastern Shore counties make up the bulk of the 1st District.
Astle, who began his political career in 1981 with an unsuccessful Annapolis mayoral bid, said he can't wait for the courts. With only four months before the primary, he must assemble his campaign organization and raise at least $100,000, he said.
His campaign,he said before heading to the Eastern Shore yesterday afternoon, will target the federal deficit and the recession.
"I'm really concerned that (the sluggish economy and deficit) is a greater threat to the security of this nation than anything we've faced from the outside," he said.