State's attorney nominee says he won on issues PRIMARY 1994

September 15, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

If Dario Broccolino were a betting man, he wouldn't have put money on himself to win the Democratic primary in the Howard County state's attorney race.

"It was a long shot," said the Ellicott City lawyer, who Tuesday upset Michael Weal, a 17-year prosecutor and chief of the District Court division of the state's attorney's office, and will face Republican Marna McClendon in the election Nov. 8.

"Given what I know about politics, I would have bet on him," Mr. Broccolino said.

Yet Mr. Broccolino, 50, coordinator of the Maryland State's Attorneys Association, won that race with 56 percent of the total, receiving 10,374 votes, about 2,000 more than Mr. Weal.

"Obviously, I'm happy and grateful for the vote of confidence," Mr. Broccolino said yesterday, weary from election day campaigning. "I think on a side-by-side comparison, I was a better qualified candidate."

Ms. McClendon, a lawyer with 17 years of experience and the county's second female police officer, handily defeated Ellicott City lawyer Joseph Fleischmann II in the Republican primary, winning almost all precincts.

In November, the winner will replace State's Attorney William R. Hymes, who did not seek re-election after 16 years in office.

Yesterday, Mr. Broccolino credited his upset victory to a campaign that focused on his experience as a trial lawyer and on voters who took the issues seriously.

"My only strategy was trying to present my qualifications to the voters," he said. "Obviously, it was effective. I could only look at the final results."

Mr. Weal's bid for the county's top law enforcement position was marred by an allegation that he violated state campaign election laws by having two senior prosecutors work as campaign organizers. He also had many of the agency's 55 employees post political signs, hand out campaign literature and help organize his campaign after working hours. He has said they supported his campaign voluntarily.

Mr. Weal was not at work yesterday and could not be reached for comment. But in an interview with The Sun last week, acknowledging that his bid was in trouble, Mr. Weal portrayed himself as having taken a high road in the campaign.

"I ran my campaign a certain way, and I didn't want to take shots at other people," he said. "I didn't expect the unfounded allegations that came out. You can't do anything about those things."

Mr. Weal, the first candidate to file, received the endorsement of the Columbia Democratic Club.

Mr. Broccolino, a self-described dark horse in the race, filed on July 5, the last day the Board of Elections accepted applications. His candidacy surprised Mr. Weal, who shifted to the primary campaign money he had been saving for the general election.

Mr. Broccolino went door-to-door to talk to voters and sent out three mass mailings to residents, the latest of which, sent out within a week of election day, portrayed him as the better candidate because of his experience as a trial attorney. He depicted Mr. Weal's experience as mainly administrative.

He said his campaign in the general election won't be any different.

"Just get back to the voters, tell them about me and what I hope to do if elected," he said. "I am not a politician. I do not belong to any political clubs. I'm independent of any preconceived ideas or personalities."

The day after the election, Ms. McClendon was up at 6 a.m. and out at 7 a.m., waving to passers-by and thanking them for their support.

She said she will continue stressing her law enforcement background and her ties with the community.

"My whole career has been in law enforcement, working with the Sexual Assault Center and victims and working with . . . the community," she said. "Dario and I both have professional respect for each other, so I think it's going to be a healthy, clean campaign."

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