Neall picked to fill Cade's Senate term Governor has 15 days to decide on nominee of county GOP panel

Secret-ballot vote was 10-3

Lobbyist would leave business to return to life in public service

December 08, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Due to an editing error, an article Sunday about the nomination of Robert R. Neall to fill the state Senate seat held by the late John A. Cade incorrectly reported the confirmation procedure. Gov. Parris N. Glendening is required to confirm Neall. He must do so within 15 days.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Anne Arundel County's Republican Central Committee picked Robert R. Neall yesterday to fill the state Senate seat vacant since John A. Cade's death last month, culminating weeks of intraparty battling while resurrecting a notable political career.

Behind closed doors, the full committee voted 10-3 to nominate Neall, a former county executive and three-term state delegate, to serve the remaining two years of Cade's term.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

In October, a month before his death, Cade asked Neall to run for his seat in 1998 when Cade was planning a bid for state comptroller, a committee member said. The announcement was to be made Jan. 2.

"This is what Senator Cade wanted," said Merri Mullaney, a Central Committee member and legislative aide to Cade, who held the seat for 21 years. "He was not going to run in 1998, and he was concerned about who would."

Neall's victory over first-term Del. Robert C. Baldwin, the other contender for the 33rd District seat, revives one of Anne Arundel's most storied Republican careers: House of Delegates at age 26, House Republican leader at 34, Maryland drug czar at 41 and Anne Arundel executive at 42.

The governor must rule on the committee's choice within 15 days. If the governor approves, Neall would change from an Annapolis lobbyist into a public official for a second time. "It feels a little surreal to me," said Neall, 48, who is virtually assured Cade's assignment on the Budget and Taxation Committee. "But I've spent most of my adult life in elected office, and I think I'll get used to it again pretty quickly."

For moderate Republicans, Neall's selection -- by secret ballot -- represents a hard-fought victory over the party's conservative wing. Many GOP leaders viewed the appointment process as an early skirmish in the party's 1998 gubernatorial primary.

Conservative Republicans, who fear Neall may challenge GOP standard bearer Ellen R. Sauerbrey for the gubernatorial nomination, worked to undermine Neall's candidacy with a letter-writing campaign that compared him to Spiro T. Agnew.

The conservatives, mostly young professionals, contend Neall is part of the party's old guard, which they say favors bipartisan accomplishment over conservative principles.

Neall has long been a favorite of business interests for his brand of fiscal-oriented, pragmatic politics -- traits valued by the party's moderate wing but derided as bipartisan capitulation by conservatives.

"It's not the man outside that counts, but the man in the arena," said Del. Phillip F. Bissett, an Edgewater Republican who endorsed Neall. "The ones throwing the bombs are not the same ones doing the party's work."

Most of Anne Arundel's elected Republican leadership, and dTC some Democratic State House leaders, supported Neall's candidacy. But that did little to win over party conservatives, who campaigned against Neall with a populist message.

Del. Michael W. Burns, a committee member from Glen Burnie associated with young conservatives, said he voted for Baldwin.

"Ideology was not on my radar screen," Burns said. "I have served with Bob Baldwin for two years. It's important for colleagues to stick together."

Said Baldwin: "I wanted to make sure they had a choice. I'm sure Mr. Neall and I will be working together on a lot of things for a long time."

Since leaving the county executive's office in 1994, Neall has owned and operated a lucrative Annapolis lobbying practice. The Davidsonville resident will have to cast off clients to accept the $29,700-a-year Senate job.

During his first lobbying stint after losing a 1986 bid for the U.S. House of Representatives by fewer than 500 votes, Neall represented Johns Hopkins Hospital as its vice president for external affairs. In the past two years, his clients have included the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Lobbying disclosure reports show that the chamber paid him $60,000 for five months of work this year.

In recent weeks, H. Furlong Baldwin, chairman of Baltimore's Mercantile Bankshares Corp., has been helping Neall arrange for a job to help augment a Senate salary. The position most likely would be with Hopkins, where Baldwin was once the hospital trustee chairman, but could not involve lobbying the General Assembly, Neall has said.

Baldwin strongly encouraged Neall to run for governor in 1994, and, with other industry leaders, is likely to do so again in the coming months. Neall has pledged to run for re-election to the Senate seat.

"I don't think this vote has anything to do with the Republican Party statewide," Neall said. "This was about who is the best candidate to fill John Cade's seat."

Pub Date: 12/08/96

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