3 Republicans face uphill fight Scramble on for new seats in 13A CAMPAIGN 1994

September 01, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

Republicans in District 13A face a tough fight for two House of Delegate seats in a district whose conservative areas are more than offset by liberal Columbia voters.

Michael Grasso, Charles H. Fiege Jr. and Kenneth Miller are seeking nomination in a remapped district that includes remnants of the old District 13B, home of GOP Dels. Martin G. Madden and John S. Morgan.

But the political landscape is far different from what it was in 1990, when Mr. Madden and Mr. Morgan unseated District 13B's Democratic incumbents.

This year, Mr. Morgan is seeking re-election in the new District 13B, which is made up of the Laurel area.

Mr. Madden is unopposed for the Republican nomination in the race for the state Senate in District 13.

And the remapped District 13A is widely expected to elect two Democrats to the House.

Miller feared default

That was the perfect scenario for a Republican loyalist such as Mr. Miller, 33. A resident of the Jeffers Hill neighborhood in Long Reach village and vice president of the Howard County Republican Club, Mr. Miller filed because he feared no one else would.

"I've been active in the Republican Party most of my adult life," said Mr. Miller, who does "a little bit of everything" in his job at Phelps Industrial Products in Elkridge, maker of gaskets and other rubber products. "Marty Madden decided to run for state Senate instead of House of Delegates, so that left a spot open. I didn't want to give that seat up to a Democrat by default."

In campaigning door-to-door, Mr. Miller said, he has learned that many of his constituents are against gun control.

"I'm basically opposed to more gun control," he said. "If any gun control legislation were to come to the floor, I would most likely vote against it because I believe that the more strict our laws get concerning gun control, the more the crime rate has been going up."

Instead of gun control, he said, "what we need is stronger criminal control. Ten years should mean 10 years, and 20 years should mean 20 years." He said he would support strict #i sentencing and life in prison for three-time felons.

Also a conservative on budget matters, Mr. Miller vowed never to vote for a tax increase.

Grasso started early

In entering the race, Mr. Miller joined early starter Michael Grasso, 33, of Scaggsville, the county Republican club's president, who launched his candidacy in July 1993.

Mr. Grasso's main issue is the need for a law that would better disclose campaign contributions by those seeking regulatory approval from the county government.

His concern stems in part from his involvement with contentious land-use issues such as the 1993 comprehensive rezoning that created an 820-acre mixed-use area in the Fulton area, not far from his home.

"A lot of us would have felt better if there were more disclosure," said Mr. Grasso, who said he helped collect signatures for a change in the county charter that would allow comprehensive rezoning decisions to be placed on the ballot.

As a delegate, he also would advocate a leaner government.

"We need to control the cost, we need to control the growth of government, as a function of money," Mr. Grasso said. "The government has grown twice as fast as inflation and population growth, combined."

He decried the 1992 state tax increases, saying, "We've gone from tax and spend to borrow and spend.

"With keno, now we're gamble and spend," Mr. Grasso added, criticizing state-run numbers games as "a regressive tax; it hits the people who can least afford it."

No comment from Fiege

Charles H. Fiege Jr., whose name is pronounced "fig-ee," might be confused by some voters with Charles C. Feaga, who has served eight years on the County Council representing western Howard and is one of the county's leading Republicans.

He refused to be interviewed for this article, saying, "I'm not going to answer any questions at this time, thank you."

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