GOP board must fill seat held by Cade Central Committee has 30 days to nominate 33rd District successor

Governor must give OK

Party leaders agree Cade's experience cannot be replaced

November 15, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

State Sen. John A. Cade's death yesterday cast a bipartisan (( pall over the Anne Arundel political community. It also opened a huge window of opportunity for ambitious local Republicans hoping to succeed the only state senator to represent the 33rd District.

Anne Arundel's Republican Central Committee must nominate a successor to Cade, whose fiscal expertise earned him an insider's spot in the Democratic-controlled Senate, within the next 30 days.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is then required to approve the nominee, who will assume a seat made more prestigious by the gruff Republican leader who occupied it for 21 years.

"It is a huge loss," said County Executive John G. Gary, a Republican who worked closely with Cade for more than 14 years. "The domino effect of this is absolutely amazing. You lose 40 years of institutional knowledge and experience."

Whoever receives the Central Committee's endorsement would serve out the final two years of Cade's term, carrying the substantial advantage of incumbency into the 1998 elections.

As a result, politicians past and present will be lobbying friends, calling in chits and jockeying for position in a flurry of clandestine campaigning over the next few weeks.

But the committee, comprising 13 members versed in professional politics to varying degrees, is widely viewed as a wild card.

One political observer described the process, which will include a public hearing on potential candidates, as "similar to a job interview."

"If they like you, they are going to pick you," the observer said. "There is no real rational criteria involved."

The committee has filled state House seats twice.

In 1991, after 30th District Republican Del. Aris T. Allen committed suicide, the Central Committee rejected the nomination of Dallas Evans, whom Allen had named as his preferred successor in his suicide note. Phillip D. Bissett, an Edgewater Republican, was selected instead based on his close finish in the 1990 race.

Allen had been appointed by the committee to replace Edward T. Hall, a Calvert County Republican who died of a heart attack in 1978. Hall's district included parts of southern Anne Arundel County.

Many local Republicans refused to comment yesterday on who might replace the tough former Marine many considered their political mentor.

"You can appoint someone to Senator Cade's seat, but you can't replace him," said County Councilman William C. Mulford, an Annapolis Republican.

But speculation behind the scenes centered on four Republicans -- two delegates who represent the 33rd District, a respected former delegate who retired two years ago and a longtime County Council member who switched parties last year.

Del. Robert C. Baldwin of Crownsville and Del. Janet Greenip of Crofton represent the Republican-majority district in the state House, and either would appear to be a logical choice to fill Cade's term.

But each is a first-term legislator, a potential liability because they would be replacing a politician with a resume that included helping to write Anne Arundel's charter 31 years ago and serving for more than two decades in the Senate.

"I'd be surprised if they looked at the delegates because they are so new," said Theodore J. Sophocleus, a two-time former Democratic candidate for county executive.

In 1994, Greenip and Baldwin replaced Gary, who left the state House after 12 years for his current job, and Elizabeth S. Smith, a highly regarded delegate who retired after 20 years. Smith, who gained a reputation for fiscal expertise on the House Ways and Means Committee, is being mentioned as Cade's possible successor.

"She would make an excellent choice," said Diane R. Evans, the Arnold Republican who chairs the County Council. Evans, who lives in a neighboring district and will be forced out of office in 1998 because of term limits, said she will not move into the district and pursue Cade's seat.

Said state Sen. John C. Astle, an Annapolis Democrat: "She [Smith] was someone who enjoyed a great deal of respect in her district."

Another name mentioned is David G. Boschert, a member of the County Council for 10 1/2 years who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the House of Delegates in 1994.

Boschert served a 45-day interim term in the House after Del. O. James Lighthizer became county executive in 1982.

"Senator Cade was a mentor of mine, and he was the one that encouraged me to join the Republican Party back in 1995," Boschert said. "My philosophy and the Republican Party's are on the same plateau."

But other Republicans said Boschert's recent conversion may hurt his chances.

"I'd be very surprised if they picked someone whose been a Republican for seven minutes," one observer said.

Gary, who in many ways modeled his penchant for fiscal matters after Cade's, said he would meet with the Central Committee within two weeks to offer his suggestions.

"I don't think there's any question they will be looking to me for advice," he said.

Gary said he also would meet soon with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat, to make sure Anne Arundel will continue to be represented on the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee, which Cade chaired despite his party affiliation.

"Of the 47 state senators, you might have 10 who are the real leaders, and John was one of them," Gary said.

"It takes a lot of work to become one of those 10."

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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