Anne Arundel's Bitterest Race

August 31, 1994

The bitterest contest in the 1994 Anne Arundel County elections is the race for state's attorney between incumbent Democrat Frank Weathersbee and Republican John Greiber. Since neither candidate drew a primary foe, their general election campaign started in July.

The aggressive, motor-mouthed Mr. Greiber has been attacking the state's attorney for nearly a year, accusing him of being ineffective and making the state's attorney's office a "playground for politics." Mr. Weathersbee, who usually sounds like he couldn't muster the passion to kill a fly, has called Mr. Greiber the kind of guy "who looks like he would shoot a sick puppy" and warns voters to beware of a "demagogue" with little prosecutorial experience but lots of ambition.

A voter could drown in this froth. But don't let the candidates' rhetoric distract from the central question surrounding each of them. In Mr. Weathersbee's case: Is he ineffective, as his opponent claims? In Mr. Greiber's case: Is he an opportunist, harboring higher ambitions? And if he is, does that matter if he is better qualified than the incumbent?

In portraying Mr. Weathersbee as ineffective, Mr. Greiber has focused on several incidents, such as the foul-up in which an accused attempted murderer went free because his trial wasn't scheduled fast enough. Are these a few mistakes in an office that handles thousands of cases a year, or are they symptomatic poor management? Mr. Greiber blasted Mr. Weathersbee for allowing a man accused of killing a couple in Arnold last June to plea bargain a burglary charge last year. Does this plea prove Mr. Weathersbee coddles criminals, or was it a sensible strategy at the time for securing a quick conviction against a minor offender?

In portraying Mr. Greiber as interested in the prosecutor's job only as a stepping stone to bigger things, Mr. Weathersbee has focused on his opponent's lack of criminal law experience and penchant for latching on to high-profile, politically oriented cases, such as the Anne Arundel Taxpayer's Association's suit to roll back pensions for county officials. Mr. Greiber is a major player in directing the county's conservative GOP faction. He acts as though criminal law is beneath him, saying it's "not rocket science." So why does he want this job?

These are the questions voters must answer by the general election on Nov. 8.

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