Candidates take campaign to TV CAMPAIGN 1994

September 08, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

The more well-heeled candidates for Howard County General Assembly seats are taking their messages -- and in some cases, criticism of opponents -- to the airwaves as the primary campaign winds down, candidate finance reports show.

And in the only competition involving two state lawmakers, Del. Virginia M. Thomas, D-13A, is accusing incumbent Sen. Thomas M. Yeager, D-13, of running cable television advertisements she says distort her record on issues such as school construction, taxation and health care for the elderly.

"Frankly, it's low-ball politics," said Ms. Thomas, a 12-year Columbia delegate who is seeking the Senate seat Mr. Yeager has held since 1983. "I'm disappointed in him."

Mr. Yeager said the commercials "speak for themselves" and are based on Ms. Thomas' record, specifically her support of a 1992 tax increase package and a committee vote against a state dental care assistance program for the elderly.

Ms. Thomas responds that she has been recognized as a leader on issues involving aging, and she calls Mr. Yeager's commercial "bloody distortion."

Mr. Yeager counters that a mailing sent out by Ms. Thomas distorts his position on gun control.

That flier charges that Mr. Yeager, recognized as a gun control advocate, voted for an amendment some lawmakers said would have doomed a bill banning 18 types of semiautomatic pistols. The amendment, which was narrowly defeated, would have stiffened penalties for violent crimes committed with a handgun.

L "I thought it enhanced the bill," said Mr. Yeager of Fulton.

During the latest reporting period, which covers Aug. 10 to Aug. 28, Mr. Yeager spent $3,125 to produce the cable television ads geared toward the primary.

Ms. Thomas spent $14,159 on three fliers touting her record on environmental issues, anti-smoking legislation and gun control, contrasting her positions with Mr. Yeager's.

"That's why I'm spending money on literature," said Ms. Thomas, who represents a portion of Mr. Yeager's larger district. "I have to break my back to get better known on issues."

The 13th District includes east Columbia, Highland, Fulton, Guilford, Savage and the Laurel area. Del. Martin G. Madden, R-13B, who has no primary opposition, is awaiting the Democratic primary winner. His campaign showed a cash balance of $24,082, compared with $25,728 for Ms. Thomas and $4,968 for Mr. Yeager.

Gun control also has been a hot topic in the District 12 Democratic Senate primary, where former state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer of Columbia has trumpeted his support of comprehensive gun control legislation to distinguish himself from the field, including incumbent Sen. Nancy L. Murphy of Catonsville.

Ms. Murphy, who has received $11,500 from political action committees since Aug. 10, got $4,000 from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund.

Mr. Kasemeyer said the NRA contribution confirms his view that the election provides a referendum on gun control.

"It appears the NRA certainly is viewing it that way," he said. "I find it a little excessive for one contributor."

Mary Sue Faulkner, an NRA spokeswoman in Fairfax, Va., said the organization is supporting Ms. Murphy because she "strongly supports the right of self-defense against criminal attack" and has advocated criminal justice reform, truth in sentencing and victims' rights. "Our members want these reforms," Ms. Faulkner said.

Ms. Murphy continues to outdistance contenders from either party in fund-raising. She has raised $19,681 since Aug. 10 -- more than six times more than any challenger -- and $231,244 overall, including her abortive bid for Baltimore County executive.

Ms. Murphy also received $2,000 from a Baltimore County firefighters committee, $400 from the Tobacco Institute and $1,000 each from Maryland Realtors PAC, Maryland Trial Lawyers Association PAC and 27th District Legislators, the Prince George's County district from which Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. hails.

Ms. Murphy spent $16,350 during the period, including $6,830 on media advertising. The next-highest spender, Democrat Thomas Booth of Catonsville, spent $7,692 overall, including $5,658 on advertising.

Republican David Maier of Elkridge has raised $22,073 overall, including $5,109 in in-kind contributions from himself and his restoration business. His opponent, Christopher Eric Bouchat of Elkridge, has raised $6,077, including $4,150 in personal loans.

District 12 includes most of west Columbia, Rockburn, Elkridge and southwestern Baltimore County.

In the crowded Democratic primary for delegate in two-member District 13A, the two candidates with the largest cash balances -- County Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass and Frank S. Turner -- also are using cable television advertising and other media more than opponents.

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