When he ran for the District 30 House of Delegates seat in 1990, Phillip D. Bissett took up a position to the political right of other Republicans in the race. This time, he calls himself the moderate on the ticket.
Joan Beck, 61, of Hillsmere Estates and Ralph "Rocky" Rosacker, 45, an Annapolis business consultant, talk about cutting taxes and reducing government. They support Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey and her plan to cut the state income tax by 24 percent during the next four years.
Mr. Bissett, who was appointed in 1991 to fill the House seat left vacant when Dr. Aris T. Allen died, boasts of his ability to work "both sides of the aisles" and is not endorsing Mrs. Sauerbrey.
The Republicans are facing Democratic political veterans Del. Michael E. Busch, who is seeking a third term, and Virginia P. Clagett, who served 20 years on the County Council before she was forced out of office by term limits. The third Democrat on the ticket is former legislative aide John C. Eldridge Jr., who is making his first run for public office.
Mr. Bissett, 38, a Mayo contractor who calls himself the voice of the "average middle-income taxpayer," focused on crime and victims' rights as a member of the Judiciary Committee. He said that if re-elected, he wants to work on reforming the state's welfare system, reducing government spending and cutting business regulations.
Except for the Sauerbrey tax cut, his positions are similar to those of his ticket mates.
All three oppose further controls on handguns. They favor abortion rights, but are against Medicaid funding for abortions.
Mrs. Beck, who was an aide to Mrs. Sauerbrey when she was in the House of Delegates, said she decided to run after watching legislative spending committees operate.
"I've sat there and listened and made notes. I've become more incredulous," she said. "I think they've lost sight of the best interest of the people of Maryland."
Mrs. Beck supports a four-year moratorium on new spending and believes the government should cut a program every time it creates one.
She and Mr. Rosacker support tax vouchers for parents whose children go to private schools. Mrs. Beck wants to reduce the bureaucracy of the state and local education systems, and Mr. Rosacker wants to eliminate or curtail the power of the state Board of Education.
Both want tougher sentences for criminals and expansion of the state's program of prison boot camps. Mr. Rosacker also wants to eliminate parole for violent and repeat offenders. He said the state must be willing to build the prisons if criminals serve longer sentences.
All the Democratic candidates support abortion rights and expansion of Medicaid benefits to pay for abortions. They also support handgun control, including the licensing and training of gun owners.
Mrs. Clagett, 51, of West River has championed environmental and farm preservation legislation as a member of the Anne Arundel County Council. Sen. Gerald Winegrad chose her to zTC succeed him in District 30 when he decided not to seek re-election. But she chose a race for the House after Del. John C. Astle announced his intention to run for the Senate seat.
Mrs. Clagett promises to continue to work on environmental legislation if elected. And she concedes that she still is learning about other issues such as education, crime and government spending.
She and Mr. Busch say they would fight tax increases, but they fear that Mrs. Sauerbrey's tax proposal would jeopardize essential services.
Mr. Busch, 47, an Anne Arundel Parks and Recreation administrator from Annapolis, is chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee.
His first priority, he said, is balancing the state's budget without increasing taxes. And while he is skeptical of Mrs. Sauerbrey's plan, he also worries about Democratic gubernatorial nominee Parris Glendening's promises to create new programs.
One of the most important spending issues, he said, will be reform of the welfare system.
Mr. Busch, a former high school teacher, also is promising to work for education reform.
He favors giving local principals and teachers greater autonomy and reducing class size in troubled school jurisdictions. He also would require the state education board to provide money for new programs it requires in local schools.
Like his Republican challengers, he favors expanding the prison boot camp program and limiting or eliminating parole for violent offenders. He also wants to increase drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Mr. Eldridge, 27, of Annapolis is a consultant for the Maryland Energy Administration. He is making his first run for public office.
The son of a Court of Appeals judge, Mr. Eldridge said he has been intrigued by politics since he watched the Watergate hearings on television at age 5. He began working as a volunteer in political campaigns when he was 17 and most recently was legislative aide to the Anne Arundel delegation.
He is running, he said, because he believes "it's time for some fresh faces to serve in office."
Mr. Eldridge promises to work for campaign finance reform laws that would keep lobbyists from giving gifts to officeholders and require candidates to list the employers of their contributors.
He said he wants to see better statewide land use planning and that he would sponsor legislation to curb storm water runoff and the use of pesticides. In addition, he said he would work to bring the state in compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.