John Astle for Senate in District 30

October 27, 1994

Del. John Astle likes to tell a story about why, when he was first elected in 1982, he was dead-set against gun control. After growing up in rural West Virginia, where everybody had a gun and nobody ever got hurt, he didn't see why any Marylander who wanted a gun should not be able to get one. But after a while, he says, he started to realize that this isn't rural West Virginia; that some people buy guns, not for sport, but to do ill; that some people who buy guns for safety don't know enough about them; that some guns just shouldn't be allowed, period.

"I came to realize that to be effective in this job you have to be willing to ask yourself some hard questions," he says. "I realized I was a little off base."

During the last legislative session, he voted in favor of a ban on assault weapons.

This is John Astle's strength and our main reason for endorsing him: his pragmatism and willingness to look beyond his personal prejudices and party ideology to find the best answers.

This is a difference between him and his opponent, GOP party leader Mary M. Rose, currently Anne Arundel's Clerk of the Court. Mrs. Rose is an intelligent woman who has run the courthouse effectively and boasts experience as a personnel manager in the Reagan administration. Once aligned with the more conservative elements in the state GOP, she remains fairly doctrinaire; she tried to contrast herself as a fiscal conservative and Mr. Astle as part of the tax-and-spend party.

But the label won't stick because Mr. Astle is a conservative who has shown courage in standing up to higher-ups in the party. In 1992, he voted against Gov. William Donald Schaefer's tax increase -- and lost his leadership position in the Appropriations Committee as a result. On crime issues, he has sponsored bills to crack down on violent criminals. He believes in creating a better climate for business and helped modernize the Medevac helicopter program.

A Vietnam veteran and colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves who gave up chairmanship of the county delegation to serve in Operation Desert Storm, Mr. Astle has proven he can lead and build consensus. Besides that, he's always accessible to constituents. He would make a good senator.

1% Tomorrow: Legislative District 31

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