Senator Hughes is not counting on easy victory CAMPAIGN 1994

September 07, 1994|By Harold Jackson | Harold Jackson,Sun Staff Writer

Sen. Ralph Hughes believes he has accomplished much in the Maryland legislature, serving two terms in the House and one in the Senate. But the history of the sometimes politically volatile 40th District he represents means he is not about to take re-election for granted.

The district historically has been the site of some of the most interesting political races in the city, sometimes pitting former allies against each other. It sent its first black senator and two black delegates to Annapolis in 1954.

By 1978, however, a shaky coalition of political camps headed by state Sen. Verda F. Welcome and that of millionaire entrepreneur and former numbers racketeer William L. "Little Willie" Adams fell apart and few elections in the district since have been considered a sure thing.

"Things are going OK, but I'll be glad when it's over," Mr. Hughes said of his campaign.

His opposition includes Alfred Nance, a lawyer who grew up in the district, and Norman Brailey, the son of one of the district's most respected residents, Troy Brailey, who was elected to the House four times, beginning in 1967, and served two terms in the Senate before losing to Mr. Hughes in 1990.

Mr. Nance believes incumbency won't help Mr. Hughes because too many problems in the district can be laid at the feet of elected officials.

He also said disenchanted voters won't vote for Mr. Brailey because they will see him only as a stand-in for his father.

Mr. Brailey said such an assertion is ludicrous. "If you look at my community involvement, you know that is not true," he said. "The people know me. They know my work."

The 54-year-old Mr. Brailey said he has been involved in politics since 1966 and would have run for the Senate seat long ago but was discouraged by his father. He said he now has the blessing of his father, who believes he's "seasoned' enough to represent the 40th.

Mr. Brailey is director of a recreation center in Annapolis, but he said he has worked with many of the members of the legislature in the past and could get things done.

While Mr. Nance doesn't believe Mr. Brailey can win, he does believe having him in the race will help him more than it will Mr. Hughes.

"On the west side of the district, the Brailey name and the Hughes name could cancel each other out and on the east side there should be a warmer vote for me. So, if I do well in the east and only fairly well in the west, I could win," said Mr. Nance.

Mr. Hughes was a legislative analyst for 10 years before serving in the House and said he has used the combined experience in the legislature to get bills passed that 40th District voters wanted.

"In 1988 we passed the Saturday Night Special Law, which I sponsored," Mr. Hughes said. "In doing that, we started the momentum here in Maryland that eventually led to Congress' passing the Brady Bill gun control law."

Mr. Hughes said he believes 40th District voters will also remember that he sponsored legislation outlawing inner city billboards encouraging people to drink alcoholic beverages.

If he is re-elected, Mr. Hughes said he plans to push a plan to arrest more "white-collar drug dealers."

Mr. Nance contends that Mr. Hughes has not done enough to solve the everyday problems of the 40th District.

"I started thinking about running in 1993 after some fool threw a Molotov cocktail into the house next to my parents'," Mr. Nance said. "We think it had to do with a debt owed to drug dealers.

"That incident got me to asking where are the people who are supposed to represent the people in the 40th District," he said.

Mr. Hughes gets upset when he hears Mr. Nance talk about having concern for the 40th District. Mr. Hughes doesn't believe Mr. Nance lives in the 40th District anymore.

Mr. Nance admits he does "own a piece of property" that is outside the 40th District, but he insists he moved into his parents' house within the district after the firebombing last year.

"The Motor Vehicles Administration, the IRS, anyone he [Mr. Hughes] wants to contact will verify this," said Mr. Nance.

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