Armchair Guide to November

September 15, 1994

The primary election is over; now the serious fun begins. From obscure contests like the Clerk of the Court race to Anne Arundel County executive, this campaign offers sharp contrasts, incumbents hanging on for dear life and opponents who can't stand each other. Here are the best races to watch before Nov. 8:

* Republican John Gary vs. Ted Sophocleus for executive. Ideologically, they're worlds apart. Watch for Mr. Gary to beat up on Mr. Sophocleus for his 1989 vote to sweeten his county pension. Watch Mr. Sophocleus try to peg Mr. Gary as slightly to the right of Attila the Hun.

* George Johnson IV vs. incumbent Robert G. Pepersack for sheriff. Mr. Pepersack, a Republican who thinks he's Gary Cooper reincarnated, came embarrassingly close to losing the primary to a challenger who barely campaigned. He'll be fighting for his badge against Mr. Johnson, a county police sergeant with the full support of his party.

* Republican John Greiber vs. incumbent Frank Weathersbee for state's attorney. These two have been hammering at each other for months, the perennially wired Mr. Greiber calling Mr. Weathersbee inept, the soporific Mr. Weathersbee branding Mr. Greiber a demagogue.

* Democrat Janet Owens vs. Robert Duckworth for Clerk of the Court. She's a feisty former Orphan's Court judge, he's chief deputy clerk and heir apparent to current court clerk and GOP leader Mary Rose.

* Democrat Thomas Redmond vs. Carl G. "Dutch" Holland for County Council, 3rd District. Mr. Redmond is "the homegrown candidate" who has been campaigning for two years. He's spending tens of thousands on this race, a fact Mr. Holland will try to use against him -- when he isn't defending a record that's adequate but far from stellar.

* Republican Ed Middlebrooks vs. incumbent Michael J. Wagner for state Senate, District 32. Mr. Wagner may be the most influential Democrat in the county; Mr. Middlebrooks, the County Council chairman, switched parties so he could run against him. The two despise each other.

* Republican Mary Rose vs. Del. John Astle for state Senate, District 30. We knew this was going to be a good one when she accused him of lacking courage. The popular Mr. Astle was shot down -- twice -- in a helicopter over Vietnam.

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