Battle lines are drawn in 3 state Senate races

September 18, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

Economics and experience are topping the list of campaign themes as candidates begin staking out ideological territories and attacking their opponents' records in the county's three state Senate races.

* In District 13, Republican Del. Martin G. Madden says Del. Virginia M. Thomas, a Democrat, has never seen a tax increase she didn't like. Ms. Thomas criticizes her General Assembly colleague for voting against a 1992 state budget that increased taxes she says were necessary to avoid harmful county cuts in public safety and education during the recession.

* In District 12, Republican David Maier calls Democrat Edward J. Kasemeyer, a former state senator, a "flaming liberal" and holds him up as a member of the 1987-1990 Senate, which he says did a poor job controlling state spending and contributed to Maryland's economic woes during the last legislative term.

people like Bill Clinton, they'll love Ed Kasemeyer. He knows how to spend the money," Mr. Maier said.

Mr. Kasemeyer, who represented Howard in the legislature from 1983 to 1990 and subsequently was a government affairs liaison for Montgomery County in Annapolis, described himself as a "moderate to conservative Democrat" who had a high ranking with business organizations. He says his experience will be a key factor in the campaign.

* In District 14, Republican Sen. Christopher J. McCabe also is emphasizing his experience, noting that Howard's other two senators from the past four-year term -- Democrats Thomas M. Yeager and Charles H. Smelser -- will not be returning. His opponent, Democrat James P. Mundy, said distinct differences between the two on education, gun control, abortion and health care will provide voters with a clear choice.

Mr. Madden, 45, who has represented the Clarksville, Laurel, Savage and Elkridge areas in the House of Delegates, said his view of government differs from that of Ms. Thomas, whose House district includes east Columbia and Guilford.

"She consistently supports higher taxes for more state government," he said. "I support leaner, more efficient government and opposed [the Schaefer administration's] tax increases."

Ms. Thomas, 53, said she voted for the 1992 tax package -- including increases on cigarettes, income taxes for the wealthy and an expansion of sales tax -- because the state was in "deep trouble" during the recession and County Executive Charles I. Ecker asked the delegation to support the proposal to avoid harmful cuts.

She criticized Mr. Madden for voting against a 1993 health care reform bill -- approved by the House by a 117 to 14 vote -- that makes health insurance more widely available and affordable to employees of small companies.

Mr. Madden said he contributed a key amendment to control the cost of basic benefit packages but ultimately couldn't support the plan because he feared it could result in higher health care costs and drive away businesses.

Ms. Thomas said she has a stronger record than Mr. Madden for securing state money for county projects such as the Winter Growth Adult Day Care Center in Columbia.

The two seasoned lawmakers are using different tactics to woo voters. Mr. Madden is known to stand alongside busy roads waving to commuters.

In August, Ms. Thomas said she would try that tactic for the first time in her 20-year political career to keep pace with Mr. Madden, even though she abhorred the idea. She lasted three days, then abandoned it in favor of standing outside schools at busy hours.

Mr. Mundy, a Glenelg High School politics and government teacher, said his campaign against Mr. McCabe boils down to "how people want to approach solving our problems today."

He said he strongly supports public education, gun control measures such as licensing and safety training, abortion rights and voluntary cost control measures for health care, adding that Mr. McCabe's positions on each issue differ from his.

Mr. McCabe, 38, said Maryland can't afford to preclude exploring certain alternatives for privatization in education, such as programs for inner-city children. He said comprehensive gun control legislation would "consume scarce correctional resources for really unknown purposes."

He emphasized his role as an "independent voice" in Annapolis and the continuity he says he could provide working within the Howard delegation and with county officials. Mr. Mundy has boasted of a slew of endorsements that could tie his hands on certain decisions, Mr. McCabe said.

Mr. Mundy, 42, said his endorsements from statewide law enforcement and educational organizations are significant signs of support considering he is challenging an incumbent.

Mr. Maier, 37, of Elkridge, who owns a home restoration business, is maneuvering to capture votes from the more conservative areas of the diverse district. He said Mr. Kasemeyer is "out of step" with communities such as Arbutus, Lansdowne and Baltimore Highlands in southwestern Baltimore County.

"Democrats have controlled that area for years and years, and neighborhoods have done nothing but deteriorate," he said.

Mr. Kasemeyer, 49, of West Columbia, who represented a district that included portions of Howard and Montgomery counties during his earlier stint in the Senate, said he would work hard to develop relationships with Baltimore County leaders.

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