The Ellicott City Democratic Club endorsed 6th Congressional District challenger Thomas Hattery over incumbent Beverly B. Byron Tuesday night after listening to both candidates' campaign pitches.
The club also backed school board candidate Sandra French and picked Dennis M. Sweeney, the incumbent Circuit Court judge, over challenger Charles A. Wehland.
The club endorsed incumbent Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is runningwithout opposition in the primary, but was unable to agree on a presidential choice. Former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas led with 8 votes, followed by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin with 7; Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, 3; former California Gov. Jerry Brown, 2; and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, 2.
Hattery, a General Assembly delegate from Frederick, isseeking to prevent Byron from winning an eighth term. He bested Byron, 16-9, in Tuesday night's voting. To win, he needed a majority of votes from among the 26 members who turned out. The club has 63 votingmembers.
With the exception of school board nominees, candidates had nine minutes in which to sell themselves to club members. School board candidates were given two minutes each.
French was the leading choice among all candidates, with 20 votes. Three newcomers to theschool board race -- Delroy L. Cornick Sr., Jerry D. Johnston and Linda L. Johnston -- narrowly missed endorsement but impressed club members with their speeches, said C. Howard Strahler, the out-going president.
Strahler said that while he knows "Ellicott City is not a little New Hampshire," he nonetheless feels some trends may have emerged.
"We're going to have two horse races," he said. "One for congress and one for the judgeship."
Strahler also said that the strongshowing of Tsongas means the presidential race is still wide open.
The Columbia Democratic Club will make its endorsements Wednesday.