Many compete to replace Bentley Democrats see opportunity to recapture U.S. House seat CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

August 14, 1994|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writer

With enough candidates to field a baseball team, voters in the 2nd Congressional District will have plenty of choices when they go to the polls in the Sept. 13 primary.

Republican incumbent Helen Delich Bentley is stepping aside to run for governor after 10 years in office, and Republicans and Democrats of all stripes are scrambling to replace her.

They include three members of the House of Delegates, a Towson banker, a Westinghouse analyst from Bel Air, the owner of a Dundalk 7-Eleven store, a Mass Transit Administration station manager, a catering employee and an Essex businessman.

The 2nd District has nearly 300,000 registered voters spread over three counties -- northern and eastern Baltimore County, all of Harford County and a small part of northern Anne Arundel County.

Democrats, who have a 2-to-1 registration edge, see this as their best chance to recapture the seat, which Mrs. Bentley wrested from its longtime Democratic occupant, Clarence D. Long, in 1984.

But the district -- predominantly white, middle class and conservative -- is home to many so-called Reagan Democrats, who often vote Republican in nonlocal contests and gave Mrs. Bentley comfortable margins five times.

When the political season began in January, it appeared that the front-runners, Democratic Del. Gerry L. Brewster and his House colleague, Republican Robert Ehrlich, would sail through the primaries and face each other in November.

Many politicians say that's still likely to happen, but both face spirited challenges that will make them work hard to win the nomination.

Mr. Brewster, 35, a Towson lawyer and son of former U.S. Sen. Daniel B. Brewster, calls himself a moderate but says his stint as a Baltimore County prosecutor made him tough on crime.

With his solid Democratic bloodline, name recognition and a fund-raising and campaign organization that started during winter, he had hoped for an easy primary.

But in April, Connie Galiazzo, 48, a first-term delegate from Dundalk, ruined Mr. Brewster's plans for an easy trip by declaring her candidacy. In the same week, she married union official J. Ronald DeJuliis and took his last name.

Mrs. DeJuliis is joined by four lesser-known Democrats in the primary election.

As first-term delegates, Mrs. DeJuliis and Mr. Brewster were described by seasoned legislators as hard workers in Annapolis. They chalked up similar voting records: Both favor a woman's right to an abortion and talk tough on crime.

One difference that surfaced this year involved gun control. Mr. Brewster voted for a ban on assault weapons; Mrs. DeJuliis opposed it.

While their legislative records are similar, their backgrounds couldn't be more different. Mr. Brewster grew up in the wealthy Northern Baltimore County suburbs, the son of a U.S. senator. Mrs. DeJuliis grew up in blue collar Dundalk. Her father was a steel worker, her mother, a factory worker.

Mr. Brewster attended the Gilman School and Princeton University and worked for former U.S. Sen. Charles McC. Mathias of Maryland before getting his law degree from the University of Baltimore. Mrs. DeJuliis did factory work while studying at the University of Baltimore.

While Mr. Brewster does not dwell on his patrician background, Mrs. DeJuliis stresses her roots. In her speeches and campaign literature, she talks about her life as a single mother of three working her way through college.

"Ninety-eight percent of the people in this county are just like me," she said recently.

And, while not directly attacking Mr. Brewster, Mrs. DeJuliis often makes remarks that hint at her opponent's privileged background. "If you've never had to deal with the problems of life," she said recently, "how can you deal with the problems that face the country?"

Otherwise, Mr. Brewster and Mrs. DeJuliis have refrained from attacking each other, preferring a tug-of-war over endorsements and political support.

Mr. Brewster has done well in Eastside areas outside Mrs. DeJuliis' home turf, winning support from Essex legislators and Democratic clubs.

Mrs. DeJuliis has won backing from many Dundalk politicians, as well as the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO, representing 470,000 workers. A women's fund-raising group, EMILY's List, which supports abortion rights candidates for Congress, endorsed Mrs. DeJuliis and kicked in $5,000.

While the AFL-CIO endorsement has bolstered Mrs. DeJuliis' campaign, she has not shut out Mr. Brewster from labor support. He has the National Education Association, the Maryland United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in his camp.

Among Republicans, most politicians say Mr. Ehrlich will defeat first-time candidate Bill Frank, 34, who has nonetheless mounted an aggressive campaign. Mr. Ehrlich, 35, also has behind-the scenes support from many Democratic politicians who feel comfortable with his conservative outlook.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.