It's Showtime

November 07, 1994

Election day arrives in Howard County a little like the touring company of a great musical extravaganza that finally opens on Broadway.

The cast of candidates, all with award-winning potential, has been chewing the scenery for weeks, vying for recognition. Scene-stealing has left everyone with a bitter taste in his or her mouth. The pundits have been critiquing dress rehearsals; the predictions have been dire.

The show will go on, however, for the only critics that count. Howard voters, now have the last word. They get to decide which candidates best project their hopes for the future.

It has been, admittedly, a crude season for crass salesmanship. Nastier than most, this year's campaign could turn out to be the watershed event that so many predict, or it may turn out to be a bust. No one yet knows.

The anger of voters -- noted and dissected -- is palpable but in some ways inexplicable.

What was to have been an easy re-election of a popular incumbent county executive in Howard turned into a bruising battle over growth. Four years ago, that same issue unseated the previous incumbent.

Will history repeat itself?

The Howard County Council race is shaping up as a mandate on which party is strongest. The numbers would suggest that Democrats will retain a majority on the council, but a history of cross-over voting has Republicans hopeful.

The state Senate and House of Delegates races are similarly poised to shed light on which party has power. But these are also races where personality and style are as much at issue. Whatever delegation the county sends to Annapolis, it should have the ability to work together and with whatever new leadership emerges in statewide elections.

With all the charges and countercharges, truth has been the most elusive commodity this fall. Either the intensity of the campaign will cause voters to come out in record numbers, or disgust will keep them home.

But if the campaign is like a Broadway show, then what happens on stage is but an illusion. What matters is what the audience thinks of the performance it has seen this election season. The final act of this drama will take place tomorrow, in Howard's voting booths.

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