Two-party system looks lively in local elections Cities: Voters selected Republican mayors in Frederick and Annapolis, but Democrats fared well in aldermen races.

The Political Game

November 11, 1997|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

EVERYONE apparently was a winner in last week's local elections.

The spin-meisters of the Democratic and Republican parties declared victory in Tuesday's voting in Frederick and Annapolis -- where results were mixed.

But as both parties began shameless posturing for next year's statewide elections, everyone patted themselves on the back.

In Frederick, Republican Mayor James S. Grimes solidly defeated Democratic challenger Frances G. Baker with 54 percent of the vote, while in Annapolis, Republican Dean L. Johnson walked to easy victory over Democrat Dennis M. Callahan, taking 55 percent.

The Democrats, however, got the upper hand in the races for Boards of Aldermen, capturing the majority in both cities.

It was the first time since 1985 that Democrats won a majority on the Frederick board. But it had been just as long since a Republican was elected mayor of Annapolis.

In Frederick, the Democrats won four of the five board seats, with the winning Republican running fifth in the field. There, for the first time in memory, the state Democratic Party poured resources into the local races -- operating telephone banks, putting out mailings, helping with a rally and aiding in the get-out-the-vote effort.

In the races for the Board of Aldermen, "20 percent more voted Democratic than voted Republican," crowed Peter B. Krauser, the state Democratic Party chairman. "The four Democrats were the top vote-getters, and three of our top vote-getters received more votes than the Republican mayor did."

In the state capital, Democrats retained their 5-4 majority on the council after a Democratic write-in candidate edged a Republican by 11 votes.

"We think it's largely good news for Maryland Democrats," Krauser said of last week's races.

That reaction left James F. Burton, executive director of the state GOP, scratching his head. "I find it unbelievable," Burton said.

"This year, we elected three Republican mayors -- in Hagerstown in May, and we re-elected one in Frederick and elected one here in Annapolis last week," he said.

"I'm not at all sure how the Democrats can be all that happy or giddy with the results."

Ruben succeeds Amoss on Senate budget panel

With great ceremony, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announced changes last week in his starting lineup for the 1998 session of the General Assembly.

Miller went to the trouble of calling a news conference -- an unusual occurrence for the Prince George's Democrat -- to make public a variety of changes, many of them brought about by the death last month of Sen. William H. Amoss, a Democrat who represented Harford and Cecil counties.

Amoss, who was vice chairman of the important Budget and Taxation Committee, wore a number of hats in the Senate, and his death left a huge void in Miller's leadership team.

Out of a concern for geographic balance -- and to keep certain tempers cool -- Miller named Sen. Ida G. Ruben, a Montgomery County Democrat, vice chairwoman of the committee. Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, the Baltimore Democrat, will continue to chair the panel.

While both women proclaimed they were friends -- albeit from rival jurisdictions -- an exchange after Miller's announcement told the tale a little more accurately.

With Ruben as her vice chairwoman, Hoffman said with a wry smile, "I'll be able to keep an eye on her."

Ruben added quickly, "And I'll be able to keep an eye on her."

Miller elevated Sen. Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton, a first-term Charles County Democrat, to Amoss' spot as chairman of the capital budget subcommittee, the panel that decides whose hog gets gored during the legislature's pork fest each spring in the waning days of the session.

Ambassador Rosapepe going to Romania

They've called Del. James C. Rosapepe a lot of things in Annapolis over the years. Now, they can add "Mr. Ambassador."

Rosapepe, 46, a Prince George's County Democrat, was confirmed as President Clinton's ambassador to Romania on Thursday by the U.S. Senate.

Rosapepe will be carrying his diplomatic skills -- which he demonstrated this year by leading an unsuccessful revolt against House leadership over the Baltimore school funding issue -- to Eastern Europe in January.

"I think the efforts that the people of Romania and other formerly Communist countries are making to reinvent their economic and political systems are just about the most important things going on in the world today," he said. "And I'd like to help."

Pub Date: 11/11/97

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