Gouge exit roils race for House

June 26, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Julia W. Gouge's exit from the District 5 House of Delegates race means more people may enter and lesser-known candidates will have a better chance to win, say other candidates and political activists.

Mrs. Gouge, a Carroll County commissioner, dropped out of the delegate race Friday to become the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate William S. Shepard.

Republican Jerome J. Joyce of Hampstead also dropped out of the race last week.

The changes surprised some in the delegate race last week and buoyed others.

"It'll make it easier for me to get some attention," said Republican Jerry L. Toadvine of Westminster, who is running for elected office for the first time.

"It will clarify the race," he said. "It will allow some attention to filter down to people who don't have a lot of name recognition."

On the Democratic side, Mrs. Gouge's departure from the race will most help Ellen L. Willis of Westminster, said L. Gregory Pecoraro, chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee.

Mrs. Gouge had a good chance to win the Republican primary, he said. Ms. Willis now "is the only prominent woman in the race," he said.

Republican Nancy R. Stocksdale of Westminster is the only other woman in the race. She could not be reached for comment Friday.

Ms. Willis agreed that Mrs. Gouge's move will help her campaign.

"She was a formidable candidate. As two women, we probably would have been pitted against each other in the general election," Ms. Willis said.

Ms. Willis ran for a House seat in 1990 and came in third behind two incumbents -- Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Democrat, and Del. Richard C. Matthews, a Republican. The two are seeking re-election.

The county will have a third delegate seat next year as a result of redistricting in 1991. The 5th District no longer will include some of Baltimore County and will not be divided into subdistricts 5A and 5B.

As of Friday, four Democrats and seven Republicans had announced they would run for the three seats. The primary is Sept. 13.

Mr. Joyce, who also ran in 1990, said he dropped out because he didn't have enough time for the campaign and hadn't raised enough money.

Mr. Joyce, a Washington County assistant state's attorney, said commuting to Hagerstown consumes a lot of his time. He said he would support Mr. Toadvine in the race.

The withdrawals prompted speculation among candidates and others about who might enter the race before the July 5 filing deadline.

Westminster City Councilman Stephen R. Chapin, a Republican, has said since last fall that he is considering running for delegate or county commissioner.

Told Friday that Mrs. Gouge had dropped out, Mr. Chapin said, "Wow. That's interesting. That's a shock. That may open up [the race] for some other people to jump in."

He said he hadn't decided whether to run.

Mrs. Gouge, 54, said she wasn't sure if she would support another candidate in the delegate race.

Her decision to run as a candidate for lieutenant governor forced her to leave a county campaign that was just gearing up -- her first fund-raiser was Friday -- to become part of a statewide ticket that trails in polls.

A Mason-Dixon Political Media Research poll last week showed that Mr. Shepard has less support than the two other Republican candidates for governor -- U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley and Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, both from Baltimore County.

Mr. Shepard also ran for governor in 1990. He won in 12 counties, but Carroll was not one of them.

At the fund-raiser at Frock's Sunnybrook Farm in Westminster, Mrs. Gouge talked with Mr. Shepard as campaign workers pushed aside her literature on a table near the door and replaced it with his.

She said she could not cancel the fund-raiser because she needs money to pay bills from the delegate race. She announced in mid-April that she would run. Red balloons, note pads, T-shirts and other materials printed with her name will go unused.

"I don't feel at this point I'm giving something up," she said.

Mr. Shepard said he chose her because she has executive experience at the county and municipal levels. If they win, Mrs. Gouge said she'll be able to make changes to benefit counties and towns for which she has lobbied in past years.

She is president of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) and has been involved in local government since 1979, when she was elected to the Hampstead Town Council. She also served three years as the town's mayor.

Mr. Shepard said he came to know Mrs. Gouge at MACO meetings. He said he was impressed with the way she handled herself when leading meetings.

Other candidates in the District 5 delegate race are:

* Democrats -- Philip R. Deitchman of Eldersburg and Eric R. Hirtle of Westminster.

* Republicans -- W. David Blair of Manchester, Thomas J. Cassella of Westminster, Joseph H. Mettle of Eldersburg and Francis X. Walsh of Westminster.

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