If there is one constant in county politics, it is this: the Columbia Democratic Club will not endorse 6th District Congresswoman BeverlyB. Byron.
The 150-member club rejected Byron Wednesday night by an overwhelming margin, choosing instead challenger Thomas Hattery, a General Assembly delegate from Frederick.
Other incumbents fared better. Third District Congressman Benjamin L. Cardin won almost unanimous endorsement for the March 3 primary,polling 41 of 42 votes cast. U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski won endorsement with 40. The three votes Cardin and Mikulski lost did not go to other candidates but were cast as no endorsement.
Incumbent Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney also scored highly, winning endorsement over challenger Charles A. Wehland, 31 to 6. Five people voted to giveno endorsement.
School board candidates Delroy L. Cornick Sr. andSandra H. French won endorsement from among the field of eight candidates, French winning 29 votes and Cornick, 28.
To win endorsement, a candidate had to win a majority of the votes cast.
Club members could not agree to endorse a presidential choice, however, even after two ballots. Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who was tied for the leadon the first ballot with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, finished as the front-runner, polling 16 votes to Harkin's 13 on the second ballot.
Thevote totals for the remaining contenders changed a little on the second ballot, but their finishing order did not. Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey finished third with 8 votes, followed by former Massachusetts Sen.Paul Tsongas with 5, and former California Gov. Jerry Brown with none.
Hattery, who stood and waved when introduced, was the only congressional candidate present. Byron was unable to attend, attorney James Kraft said, because of a prior commitment in Washington.
Kraft nominated Byron simply by name. In contrast, William C. Bevan, who served with Hattery in the General Assembly as Howard County's representative in 13-B, gave Hattery a rousing endorsement, saying, "It's time to have a Democrat in Congress (from the 6th District) who votes like a Democrat."
Hattery was the first Byron challenger to receive an endorsement, according to longtime member David Marker, a former club president. In the past, the club simply voted no endorsement as aprotest, Marker said.
Byron supporter George Layman accused club officials of giving the club's secret membership list to Hattery. Layman called on the club to do the same for Byron "out of fairness".
Byron nominator Kraft disagreed. He said that if such a thing happened once by accident or intention, it was lamentable, but for the clubto intentionally compound the mistake and offer its membership list to candidates would be unconscionable.
Democratic club membership lists are the most prized of any voter list in the state, Kraft said,adding that a club's right to keep its list secret has been upheld in federal court.