The political twins of Howard County -- Dels. Robert L. Flanagan and Robert H. Kittleman -- announced yesterday that they are seeking re-election in newly redrawn District 14B.
"We are here [at Mr. Flanagan's Columbia law office] to announce our candidacy," Mr. Flanagan said. "We went to Annapolis, filed and paid our fee."
Mr. Flanagan, who was cut out of the district when the lines were redrawn and moved to Dorsey's Search last month to qualify as a candidate, jumped right to the main theme of the campaign:
"One of the things we're proudest of is the work of the Howard County delegation and how we pulled together as a team. We were able to work together in a bipartisan effort to do well in state roads and state schools."
"No. 1 in road dollars, No. 1 in school construction dollars per capita," Mr. Kittleman added.
When the two Republicans campaign together, one begins a thought, the other completes it.
They have been running together and winning together since 1986 and have achieved something close to guru status among Republicans statewide. Two weeks ago, they held a political workshop for GOP contenders -- "classes for candidates," Mr. Kittleman calls them.
Mr. Kittleman stunned the local political community in 1982 by becoming the first Republican in 61 years to win a seat in the county's General Assembly delegation.
Four years later, Mr. Flanagan proved Mr. Kittleman's victory was not a fluke by following him to Annapolis. Republicans started courting them for advice and, in 1990, the pair led the GOP to a local landslide. The party ousted Democratic incumbents: the county executive, a state senator, two General Assembly delegates, a County Council member, and clerk of the Circuit Court.
"In 1982, nobody talked to me [about how to win a campaign]," Mr. Kittleman said.
"In 1990, we had the largest gain [for a political party] of any legislature in the United States. Of course, we started out as the second worst. We're fifth worse now and still have a ways to go" to achieve political parity.
While collecting victories en route to Annapolis, Mr. Kittleman also succeeded in the state capital, quickly becoming minority whip. With minority leader Ellen Sauerbrey running for governor this fall, he is in a good position to replace her.
Asked about that possibility, Mr. Kittleman says, "Maybe -- I would really like [to be minority leader] if we have a Republican governor."
Mr. Flanagan hopes to return to the House Appropriations Committee where he will have a say in transportation and education issues.
Mr. Flanagan thinks "a very substantial gas tax" will be proposed in the next General Assembly and he wants to be there to oppose it. "We have to get a handle on our expenses for public transportation," he said. The only best way to do that is to limit wage increases and do away with binding arbitration in contract negotiations, he says.
Mr. Flanagan said his top education priority will be to continue to push for school construction funds for Howard County, and his ** second will be to deal with school problems in Baltimore. "Problems with education in Baltimore City and other poorer areas in the state really demand attention," he said.
Mr. Flanagan wants school principals to have more control in the hiring and firing of teachers, and parents to play a larger role in the designation of so-called magnet schools designed to attract special populations.
Mr. Kittleman plans to work on economic development. An economic climate that allows people to find jobs to support themselves is needed, he said.
Asked whether the pair share identical views on everything, Mr. Kittleman answered that "it just so happens we agree on most everything" -- everything apparently except how much they agree.
"I look at our voting pattern, and it's probably 95 percent . . .," Mr. Flanagan said.
"Higher than that," Mr. Kittleman said. "The only difference is when we're looking at a bill that is 51 percent good and 49 percent bad. We may vote differently on that. We probably agree or 99 percent of the time."
The agreement carries over to constituents, Mr. Kittleman said. "It's a wonderful district. We can vote our consciences and almost 100 percent of the time be in tune with our constituents. We can vote our principles and not worry about being at cross-purposes with the district."
The district, which includes Ellicott City and all of Howard County west of Route 108, does look tailor-made for them. It is more compact than the district they have won in the past two elections. If the numbers in 1994 are similar to 1990, they would win the general election by a 2-1 margin.
Mr. Kittleman complains that the district was gerrymandered. Democrats crowded GOP precincts into the district to limit Republican precincts in other districts in an effort to help Democrats become more competitive in close elections this fall, he said.
The strategy may backfire. Mr. Flanagan and Mr. Kittleman say they plan to campaign for GOP candidates elsewhere. "We will )) help people all over the state," Mr. Kittleman said. So far, the only announced opposition in the district is Democrat Bushrod Hopkins, a supporter of Lyndon LaRouche.