Conservatism with a small 'c' Incumbents on school board, in Congress find no mood for change.

November 07, 1996

THE STATUS QUO prevailed Tuesday among Carroll County voters, who seemed like most of the nation to prefer things politically much as they are. It was an election favoring conservatism with a small "c."

Voters retained two different-thinking incumbents on the Carroll Board of Education, despite a well-financed, high-profile assault by an ultra-conservative tandem ticket.

The 2-1 margin for Ann M. Ballard and Joseph D. Mish Jr. showed the electorate was largely unswayed by the challengers' ceaseless attacks on school budget priorities, administrative pay and student achievements.

While the team of Jerry Brunst and William Bowen could have engaged a lively debate on school instruction and spending, their bitter, negative campaign instead mobilized a wide range of public support for the incumbents. And the defensive, forced unity of Mrs. Ballard and Mr. Mish in the campaign afforded little debate between those two board members.

The active electioneering of Brunst-Bowen helped to provoke more interest in the local race. It prompted the incumbents to abandon plans for a low-key race; they ended up spending more money than in their previous independent campaigns for the board.

But the outcome was no surprise. There was little indication that the challengers had struck a chord. Even the county's recognized standard-bearers of the right came out unequivocally for Mr. Mish and Mrs. Ballard.

Most voters recognized the outstanding academic performance in Carroll, and the relatively low per-pupil cost of the county's education system. They cast their ballots accordingly.

In the 6th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Roscoe G. Bartlett again showed that he reflects the solid conservative mood of Western Maryland in besting Democrat Stephen Crawford, 56 to 44 percent, to win a third term. Mr. Crawford, a college instructor, was little known, and could not elicit the warm support from crowds that the grandfatherly congressman did.

While incumbents usually have the advantage of more money and name recognition, perhaps the best advantage for Mr. Bartlett was incumbency itself, especially in a six-county district that did not relish change.

Pub Date: 11/07/96

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