Anne Arundel's leading Republican officials announced their support yesterday for Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a state delegate from Baltimore County who hopes to replace U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley in Congress.
County Executive Robert R. Neall, state Sen. John A. Cade and former U.S. Rep. Majorie Holt were among the officials who gathered at Mr. Ehrlich's new Mountain Road headquarters to endorse the Cockeysville attorney.
Mr. Ehrlich is running in the GOP primary for the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Harford, northern and eastern Baltimore and northeast Anne Arundel counties. He is opposed by Bill Frank, a banker from Towson.
Mr. Neall, who is not seeking re-election, said Mr. Ehrlich "is a leader who has the knowledge, work ethic and integrity" to be a congressman.
Other GOP officials who endorsed Mr. Ehrlich include state Dels. Phillip Bissett of Mayo and Elizabeth Smith of Davidsonville, and County Councilwoman Diane Evans of Arnold. None of the officials, with the exception Mrs. Holt, lives in the district.
About 24,000 of the district's 312,000 registered voters live in Pasadena and the communities along Fort Smallwood and Mountain roads. About 40 percent of those Anne Arundel voters are Republican.
For 20 years, the county was represented by a single congressional district. However, the state legislature splintered the county in 1990, making Anne Arundel voters a minority in four districts.
Critics of the redistricting were particularly skeptical about the 2nd District because the Anne Arundel portion is separated from the rest by the Patapsco River and is not directly connected by road.
"I'll take every disconnected area with these demographics," said Mr. Ehrlich, who described the voters, including the Democrats, as conservative and pro-business. "For me, it's a good fit."
The announcement was held at Mr. Ehrlich's campaign office in the 4600 block of Mountain Road. State Del. John Gary, a candidate for Anne Arundel County executive, donated the building to Mr. Ehrlich. He had operated a drapery business there. The building also served as Anne Arundel County Bush-Quayle headquarters in 1988.
"We often hear that this is the middle of nowhere," said Mr. Gary, who introduced Mr. Ehrlich to supporters gathered in the tiny, freshly painted building. "Believe it or not, we have 27,000 cars that pass by this spot every day."