Cade's logical successor: Robert Neall State Senate vacancy: Former executive, House leader could ably fill big shoes.

November 19, 1996

WHEN THE Republican Central Committee of Anne Arundel County selects a replacement for the late Sen. John A. Cade, it will not be choosing just another legislator. The committee's task will be to find a replacement for a man who created a unique position for himself within the Maryland General Assembly. Mr. Cade not only ably represented Anne Arundel's 33rd District, but also assiduously attended to the interests of the entire state.

No one can replicate Mr. Cade's larger-than-life role as an incisive and blunt intimidator of bureaucrats and lobbyists. None of the delegates and County Council members, past or present, whose names have been bandied about have his outsized presence. Very few have achieved Mr. Cade's mastery of the state budget. Even fewer have the breadth of vision that enabled him to rise above parochialism and advocate on behalf of Baltimore's light rail or earmark millions of dollars in school construction for Montgomery County. Only a select group of politicians can engineer compromises that enable them to enact a statewide forest conservation law and still obtain high ratings from business organizations.

Rather than narrowly considering politicians who currently occupy elective office, the county GOP should broaden its search. If it does, former state delegate and county executive Robert R. Neall's name would rise to the top of the list. A fiscal conservative who would require no on-the-job training, Mr. Neall has leadership skills that are respected on both sides of the aisle. Not only would he maintain the county's clout within the Senate, he would work in concert with County Executive John G. Gary, his protege, to advance the county's interests.

Since leaving public service, Mr. Neall has carved out a lucrative career as a consultant and lobbyist. Convincing him to return to office and sacrifice some of his income may take some doing, but it would certainly be in the party's interest to have Mr. Neall in a highly visible position during the next two legislative sessions. Given Gov. Parris N. Glendening's current unpopularity, Mr. Neall's clear-eyed pragmatism would be an attractive alternative to Ellen R. Sauerbrey's hard-edged conservatism.

If the GOP wants to preserve Mr. Cade's legacy, the central committee has but one choice.

Pub Date: 11/19/96

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