Del. Gerry L. Brewster, a Baltimore County Democrat, made official yesterday what has been no secret for a long time. He's running for the 2nd District congressional seat being vacated by Republican Helen D. Bentley.
Sounding much like Del. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a GOP candidate for the same seat, Mr. Brewster presented a get-tough-on-crime theme in an address to about 200 supporters in front of the Old Courthouse Building in Towson.
"Government has clearly failed to fulfill its No. 1 obligation, to protect its citizenry," said Mr. Brewster, 36. "Our kids can't walk home from school without fear of drive-by shootings, and all citizens are not safe walking the streets anymore."
Without offering specifics, the first-term delegate, pledged support for harsh treatment of criminals, especially violent felons, and vigorous support for law enforcement officers.
Mr. Brewster said that, as a delegate, he has sponsored or co-sponsored a dozen anti-crime measures.
The 2nd District covers eastern and northern Baltimore County, Harford County and a small part of Anne Arundel County along the Chesapeake Bay.
In December, Mr. Brewster said he would not seek re-election. In February, he sent a letter to potential contributors saying he was running for Congress, but he declined then to make a public announcement.
Mr. Brewster said his campaign has raised more than $100,000 and has a districtwide organization.
Asked about his chances of winning back many of the blue collar conservative Democrats who have supported Mrs. Bentley, who is running for governor, he said:
"They liked Helen because she had a great record of constituent service and for her fighting spirit. My burden is to prove to these Democrats that I'm a straight-shooting moderate who will represent them as well as Helen did."
Two veteran Democratic politicians who were present for yesterday's announcement -- Del. E. Farrell Maddox of Essex and former Gov. Harry Hughes -- said they liked Mr. Brewster's chances of winning the Democratic primary and the general election and felt he was the most qualified candidate.
"He has the support of the elected officials in the 6th Legislative District," Mr. Maddox said. "He's the front-runner because of his experience, not only in the legislature, but also in Washington."
Mr. Brewster was an assistant to Republican Charles McC. Mathias when Mr. Mathias was a U.S. senator from Maryland.
Support from Eastside politicians such as Mr. Maddox is important because Mr. Brewster will face Del. Connie C. Galiazzo of Dundalk, who is to announce her candidacy Wednesday, in the primary.
Other Democratic candidates are Barbara O. Kreamer, a former delegate from Harford County; James Edward DeLoach Jr.; Joseph John Bish Jr.; and Kauko H. Kokkonen.
Besides Mr. Ehrlich, the other Republican candidate is William J. Frank, a Towson banker.