Howard GOP leader to run for council Allan Kittleman to challenge aide to county executive

Campaign 1998

October 11, 1997|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

The rifts within Howard County's powerful GOP threatened to grow yesterday as party Chairman Allan Kittleman announced he would challenge longtime Republican ally Gail Bates for a seat on the County Council.

Kittleman -- the 38-year-old son of Del. Robert H. Kittleman, GOP leader in the House of Delegates -- has earned wide respect as a party builder in his five years as chairman of Howard's Republican Central Committee.

But his campaign for the west County Council seat and several other primary races slated for 1998 are certain to divide tightly knit Howard Republicans in ways they never faced in their decade-long rise to power.

"That's nice to see contested primaries on the other side of the aisle," said Howard Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Carole Fisher. "It's so unlike them to not have everything choreographed."

Bates, 51, assistant to County Executive Charles I. Ecker, had long seemed the heir apparent to the solidly Republican west county seat, occupied since 1986 by Councilman Charles C. Feaga of West Friendship.

When Feaga formally began his campaign for county executive in June, he announced that Bates was running for his seat on the council. Feaga's race, against Council Chairman Dennis R. Schrader, a fellow Republican, has already created cracks in party unity.

Kittleman agonized for months over whether to challenge Bates, but made his decision Thursday night after a long discussion with his father. "That's what happens when the party gets so well endowed with candidates," said Robert Kittleman, who has worked to build Howard's GOP since Allan was born in 1958.

Bates, who lives in West Friendship, has been active in Howard Republican politics since 1980, serving nine years on the Central Committee and working on several campaigns, including the elder Kittleman's successful campaign for the House of Delegates in 1982. She ran Feaga's campaigns in 1986 and 1990.

A certified public accountant, Bates plans to build her campaign on her experience as one of Ecker's two assistants, a job she has held since 1991. "The theme of my campaign is really going to be my experience at the local level," she said.

Kittleman, a lawyer representing employers in workmen's compensation cases, said he plans to focus on controlling growth, county debt and school overcrowding.

The oldest of his three children is a first-grader at West Friendship Elementary.

"I want to make sure they have the same opportunities I had," he said.

Kittleman, who worked to keep Republicans out of divisive fights such as last year's nasty judges' race, plans to step down as chairman of the Central Committee in November.

His successor will face a tough job.

In addition to the race between Kittleman and Bates, Republicans are already choosing sides between Feaga and Schrader in a county executive race that is showing early signs of splintering the party.

Ecker, who must step down as county executive when his second term ends next year, is running for governor against 1994 GOP gubernatorial nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey -- a favorite of many key Howard Republicans, including Robert Kittleman.

"When a party is strong, you need to see if you can live through this," Allan Kittleman said. "And in September [1998], we'll see if we have lived through this."

Pub Date: 10/11/97

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