Murphy joins Baltimore Co. race

January 20, 1994|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

Stressing her reputation as a plain-talking, straight-shooting politician, State Sen. Nancy L. Murphy yesterday became the first Democrat to declare herself in the race for Baltimore County executive.

Announcing her political intentions in the bitter cold of Lawyer's Plaza in Annapolis, Mrs. Murphy said that the boom times of Baltimore County are over and that residents now have to face the same problems besetting Baltimore City.

"I'll always level with you even if it hurts," Mrs. Murphy said. "I've always told it like it is, and I'm not going to change now."

Although she is the first candidate to declare her intentions, Mrs. Murphy, 64, will have some catching up to do to pull even with unofficial candidates such as County Councilmen Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III and Melvin G. Mintz, both of whom have been campaigning for some time.

On the GOP side, incumbent County Executive Roger B. Hayden has not officially announced his plans for re-election but has left no doubt about his intention to run.

Mrs. Murphy, an 11-year veteran of the General Assembly from the west side's 12th District, said the key issues in her campaign will be rising crime, a declining economic base and a deteriorating educational system.

"Many of our problems are the same that have plagued Baltimore City 25 years ago and to just about the same degree," said Mrs. Murphy.

Mrs. Murphy, who scheduled a second announcement at the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Hall last night, said she wanted to "make Baltimore County once more a good place to live, work and raise children."

Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County Democratic Party chairman, said that if Mrs. Murphy remains the only woman in the race and her advisers can package her straight- talking style, "she could become the Ann Richards of this campaign." Mrs. Richards, the Democratic governor of Texas, is known for her outspoken style.

That image, Mr. Kamenetz said, might serve Nancy Murphy Mrs. Murphy well on the lower east side of the county, where Dundalk and Essex voters like their candidates plain-talking and straight-shooting.

Some east side Democrats such as Del. E. Farrell Maddox of Essex and Del. John S. Arnick of Dundalk, said it's too early for politicians to commit themselves to a candidate for county executive.

"We'll wait to see who all the players are and hear how each stands on the issue before making any decisions of support," said Mr. Maddox.

Both Mr. Ruppersberger and Mr. Mintz have been courting voters and politicians on the east side.

Mr. Ruppersberger had little reaction to Mrs. Murphy's announcement, saying it wouldn't change his approach to the campaign.

"The county is at a crossroads, and it is going to take leadership and experience in county government to take the county in the direction it needs to go," said Mr. Ruppersberger. "My nine years in the council and my years as a county prosecutor give me the experience to do just that. I'll campaign on that theme regardless of who is in the race."

Mr. Ruppersberger said he will formally announce his candidacy sometime in the spring, "although everyone knows I've been out there running" since last May.

Mr. Mintz said that more candidates will mean a livelier debate on the issues, which will benefit voters. The Pikesville Democrat said he too expects to make an announcement on his candidacy in the spring.

Mrs. Murphy said the talk from her potential opponents on experience doesn't bother her.

"To solve the county's problems is going to take budgetary skill, and my years serving on the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee will give me that experience," she said.

Mrs. Murphy first won elected office in 1978, taking a seat on the Democratic State Central Committee from her legislative district. Four years later, she won a seat in the House of Delegates.

Mrs. Murphy was appointed to the Senate seat held by John C. Coolahan when he became a District Court judge in 1989.

She won a full four-year term in 1990.

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