ANNAPOLIS — *TC ANNAPOLIS -- The leader of a statewide anti-tax group says his organization is working with a pro-gun group to target individual legislators for defeat in 1994.
John D. O'Neill, president of the Maryland Taxpayers' Association, says he is already preparing a "hit list" of lawmakers from the 3-week-old House and Senate roll-call votes on the tax package worth nearly half a billion dollars that the General Assembly approved.
Mr. O'Neill, whose organization tried to persuade lawmakers to avoid tax increases with deeper spending cuts, said he has been talking "for several months" with the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association and other special-interest groups in the hope of identifying incumbents they can agree to target together.
Mr. O'Neill said he approached the Family Protection Lobby, an anti-abortion organization, hoping to enlist it in the anti-tax cause.
Steve Shaneman, the Family Protection Lobby's director, said the group could not join such a coalition because some lawmakers who voted for taxes also voted against abortions, or voted with the Family Protection Lobby on other issues its members care about.
Bob McMurray, spokesman for the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, said his group has had "preliminary discussions" with Mr. O'Neill's group and in all likelihood will try to agree on a common list of legislators to target in 1994.
"What is probably going to happen is that we have a list of people we would like to see not re-elected, and so do they. And we might all get together, put our lists together, and see how many coincide," Mr. McMurray said.
But Mr. McMurray said the two groups almost certainly will stop short of renting office space together, or pooling money.
Mr. O'Neill said his group intends to begin the targeting process by immediately listing the names of the senators and delegates who voted for higher taxes in the organization's periodic newsletters.
"We'll publish it about eight times a year -- put the whole thing in ours. People can retain, maintain, carry it with them . . . the 'good guys and the bad guys,' " he said.
He said the Baltimore County chapter, for example, was particularly incensed by Sen. Janice Piccinini, the only Baltimore County senator to support the tax bills.
Ms. Piccinini said yesterday she is "comfortable" with her vote, that constituents have been understanding and that she doubts the attempt to build a coalition of interest groups to target those who voted for the tax package will work.
Del. D. Bruce Poole of Washington County, the Democratic floor leader of the House, said, "I wouldn't be surprised if we are targeted," but he contended it's the anti-tax side that needs to do the explaining.
"The Taxpayers' Association wants you to believe you can get something for nothing. They can't tell you what to do about a prison population that is exploding, or a school system with more children in it every day, or how to keep our community colleges affordable at a time when people need tuition that is within reach," he said.