City liquor board scandal trouble for state senator Primary opponent aims at Hoffman's connections pTC

September 11, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

As one of Maryland's most powerful politicians, state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman of Baltimore's 42nd Legislative District appeared for a while to face an easy primary challenge against first-time candidate and fellow Democrat Elinor Hoffman Kerpelman.

But that was before Hoffman had to spend her campaign answering questions about the Baltimore liquor board scandal.

With four House of Delegates candidates running unopposed in the district primary, the Hoffman-Kerpelman race is the only one to be decided Tuesday.

The scandal revolves around Baltimore after-hours club owners who have admitted bribing city liquor inspectors and paying for tickets to political fund-raisers -- including Hoffman's -- in return for protection from police and other inspectors.

Hoffman has denied participation or knowledge of the protection racket and prosecutors found no evidence of any wrongdoing on her part. The investigation, however, resulted in seven indictments in May, including Hoffman's political ally, former state Del. William J. Madonna Jr., the chief liquor inspector. Hoffman sponsored Madonna for the job.

Kerpelman has taken advantage of the liquor board investigation to keep political pressure on the 15-year Senate incumbent, asking how the chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee could get tangled in such a mess.

"As far as I'm concerned, I've been victimized" by the accused, said Hoffman, who is a prosecution witness in the case. "I will plead guilty to naivete not bad judgment. I'm embarrassed."

The 48-year-old mother of three has focused on state support for education, drug addiction programs and literacy during her tenure.

With federal welfare reform deadlines approaching, Hoffman hopes to retain her Senate seat in order to find more state aid for drug rehabilitation, higher education funding and job training to support the state's poorest residents, she said.

Hoffman said she views her election to a fourth four-year term as critical to the state's political redistricting, which will occur after the 2000 census.

Kerpelman, the former deputy director of the Maryland Human Relations Commission and supervisor of the Baltimore Community Relations Commission, is making her first bid for public office.

Her platform includes opposing slot machines at state horse racetracks, exploring the liquor board appointment system and revamping state campaign-finance laws. The 70-year-old mother of four and her husband, Leonard, have been urging local cable companies to provide free access to candidates.

Kerpelman complains that candidates without large campaign funds for television advertisements often have little chance to reach voters, giving an advantage to incumbents.

In the 42nd District primary race for three House of Delegates seats, Democratic incumbents James W. Campbell, Maggie L. McIntosh and Samuel I. Rosenberg are running unopposed. Jeffrey B. Smith Jr. is unopposed on the Republican ballot.

District 42

Candidates: Incumbent Democratic State Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman faces a primary challenge from former Deputy Director of Maryland Human Relations Commission Elinor Hoffman Kerpelman. Democratic House Delegate incumbents James W. Campbell, Maggie McIntosh and Samuel I. Rosenberg are unopposed. Jeffrey B. Smith Jr. is running unopposed on the Republican ticket.

Data: The district contains 38,556 registered Democrat voters and 9,233 Republicans eligible for the primary.

The district: The district hugs both sides of Interstate 83 through Northwest Baltimore, stretching into Baltimore County. Neighborhoods served in the district include Hampden, Roland Park, Mount Washington, Park Heights and Woodberry, Pimlico Race Track lies within the district.

Pub Date: 9/11/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.