Reading voter tea leaves Local races: Ideological correctness reigned in Baltimore County

Harford seemed confused.

September 17, 1998

THE LACKLUSTER turnout in Tuesday's primary helped most incumbents sail to victory. The startling exceptions were two officeholders in Baltimore County: state Sen. F. Vernon Boozer and county Councilman Louis L. DePazzo.

The defeat of Mr. Boozer, a 28-year veteran, was particularly disappointing. A non-doctrinaire Republican, he knew how to get things done. His pro-choice record got him targeted by abortion foes, who lined up behind the conservative candidacy of Dr. Andrew Harris. Whether Dr. Harris or a neophyte Democrat wins in November, Baltimore County comes out the loser. Mr. Boozer was a potent force for the county in Annapolis.

Ideology was also behind the upset of Mr. DePazzo. His constituents had elected him as a demagogue and didn't prefer his newly moderated views. They liked "crazy Lou," and tossed the "new Lou" in favor of fiery John A. Olszewski.

Baltimore City primaries offered no surprises. Veteran Sen. Clarence W. Blount won easily despite compelling evidence he no longer lives in his district or the city.

Harford County, meanwhile, continues its schizophrenia on growth. A grass-roots group this summer collected thousands of signatures in favor of a yearlong building moratorium. Yet voters chose the candidates backed by the building industry.

Del. James S. Harkins, who won the hard-fought Republican nomination for executive, had more developer money than his opponent, Sen. David Craig (though their campaign promises were similar). In Harford's other tough race, Mark S. Decker beat Mitchell Shank for the GOP nomination for council president, in spite of Mr. Decker's unabashed pro-development record. Indeed, only two candidates endorsed by the moratorium group won. Harford countians continued their recent habit of saying they're fed up with development, then voting with the developers.

Pub Date: 9/17/98

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