Colleagues happy Cade is returning

September 11, 1994|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

Jack Cade is the bluntest, smartest man the state Senate cannot live without.

He's also a much nicer guy than he sometimes lets on.

"He scares witnesses to death," said state Sen. Barbara Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat, referring to her Republican colleague. "He is really terrifying if you don't know him."

But she has seen this menacing hulk of a man, this caustic-tongued, ex-Marine, cry. Under all that bluster, lies a heart.

"He's really a marshmallow," she said.

Senate Minority Leader John A. Cade, 65, had considered leaving Maryland's Senate this year, possibly to make a bid for lieutenant governor. The thought of carrying on without him alarmed State House colleagues of both parties.

"He's a very pragmatic person who cares, not what's best for either party, but what's best for Maryland," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat.

Mr. Miller is breathing much easier since the Severna Park resident, who has represented District 33 in Anne Arundel County since the district was created in 1974, decided to return to the Senate in June.

It is a return trip that is guaranteed. For the second time in as many elections, no one has stepped forward to challenge Mr. Cade in either the Republican primary or the general election. He is the only Anne Arundel incumbent running unopposed. Statewide, he is one of two Senate candidates without opponents.

"The Senate might have been taken aback at first by his brash and blunt style," said Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall, a Republican, "but, in a funny sort of way, the Senate got addicted to him.

"He is a one-man, vigilante posse for bad [legislation] and bad policy."

Senator Hoffman said that she will be glad to have Mr. Cade back. "We would have had a hard time functioning without him," she said. "He doesn't always win and . . . he's not always right. It's like an itch that has to be scratched, he can always put his finger on the [problem].

"Frankly, he would have been wasted as lieutenant governor," she said.

*

Jack Cade grew up in the Great Depression. Born in Charleston, S.C., three months before the stock market crash, he and his two younger brothers helped their mother tend a 1-acre truck farm. While their father worked for General Electric, they raised chickens and vegetables to put food on the table and extra money in their pockets.

Later, the family moved to the Cincinnati suburbs and Mr. Cade enlisted in the Marines. It was 1946. Mr. Cade qualified for the G.I. Bill and attended college when his two-year stint ended.

Earned MBA degree

With the federal aid, he earned a master of business administration degree at Northwestern University and went to work at General Electric outside Cincinnati designing a nuclear propulsion system for aircraft.

There, Mr. Cade demonstrated a keen eye for troubled government programs. "After three years, I decided that [the program] wasn't going to fly, and I ought to get out," Mr. Cade recalled.

He left General Electric in 1959 to accept a job at Westinghouse's Friendship defense plant in Anne Arundel County. Prophetically, two years later, President John F. Kennedy canceled the nuclear-propelled aircraft program, leading to 3,000 layoffs at General Electric.

By then, Mr. Cade was safely ensconced at Westinghouse and living in Glen Burnie Park, where he emerged as a critic of the eight county commissioners who ran Anne Arundel. It troubled Mr. Cade that each commissioner had absolute power in his district, deciding which roads were repaired, who received liquor licenses and whose property was rezoned.

As a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic county, the chance that Mr. Cade would be taken seriously politically seemed remote. But Mr. Cade's outbursts at community meetings garnered the attention of a group of Democratic reformers, who already were banking on the viability of another Republican, then-sheriff and state Senate candidate Joseph Alton.

The group and Mr. Alton, who is fixed in lore as Anne Arundel's first county executive, wanted to change the government from a commissioner system dominated by slot machine interests to a professional, charter government ruled by a council and executive.

Mr. Cade took up the cause with gusto, helping to draft the new charter and, for two years, he trooped around the county, climbing upon soapbox after soapbox to plead its merits.

"We have our charter government because of Jack," said County Councilman George Bachman, a Democrat.

New charter approved

After county voters narrowly approved the new charter in 1964, Mr. Cade was a natural choice to join a bipartisan "Charter Ticket," which faced the old commissioners in the new government's first elections. The ticket won, and Mr. Cade became a member of Anne Arundel's first County Council.

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