Haines helped defeat colleague Senator contributed funds, volunteers to opponent of GOP rival

September 20, 1998|By John Murphy | John Murphy,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Larry Carson contributed to this article.

When a relatively unknown doctor defeated Republican Senate Minority Leader F. Vernon Boozer in the Baltimore County primary Tuesday, one supporter who gloated over the upset was not a district resident at all. It was Carroll County Republican Sen. Larry E. Haines.

Haines, who chairs Carroll's legislative delegation, actively campaigned for Dr. Andrew P. Harris, pouring $1,000 into his campaign, encouraging other Republicans to make donations and lending his loyal army of volunteers to help Harris' cause.

In toppling a leading member of his party, Haines broke an unwritten rule that fellow Republican incumbents should be loyal to one another.

"It hurt me," Boozer said. "I would never have done that. I don't know how the party will grow if we feed on our young."

It was a rule Haines had adhered to until this year.

"I always support the Republican incumbent unless I have a reason not to," said Haines.

He thought he had plenty of reasons not to support Boozer, who represents the 9th District. In the past four years, Boozer, a moderate, and Haines, a conservative, clashed over legislation on business, needle-exchange programs and abortion.

In February, Boozer was one of two Republicans who helped defeat Haines' bill that would have made it a crime to perform a controversial late-term abortion procedure.

"He conspired with the most liberal Democrats against my bill. He should have had the courtesy to discuss it with me," said Haines. "He won't be there to vote against it now."

Advancing conservative policies such as the anti-abortion bill would be the reward for his efforts, Haines said, if Boozer is replaced by a Republican whose views match his own.

Harris is "Republican from head to toe," Haines said. "Philosophically, I agreed with him on fiscal and moral issues."

Haines' bold move has done just as much to promote himself as an up-and-coming force in the State House.

"He took aim at a leader and didn't miss," said Herb Smith, professor of political science at Western Maryland College.

"What Larry has done has increased his power in Annapolis. You don't pull something like this without taking yourself seriously in the future," Smith said.

"He might have made enemies. But he's also delighted allies, associates and friends. He's a contender if he so desires it," Smith added.

The question is, for what?

Senate minority leader

Haines would appear to be a likely candidate to become the new Senate minority leader.

In 1996, he lost his bid for the post to Boozer, a 62-year-old Towson attorney.

Other Republicans and political analysts have speculated that Haines is eyeing a congressional seat. Smith said Haines is the "heir apparent to Roscoe Bartlett," U.S. congressman from the 6th District.

No 'gain' expected

Haines, a 60-year-old real estate broker and appraiser, is reluctant to reveal higher political aspirations.

"I don't expect to gain anything but better government," he said.

In talking about Boozer's position as minority leader, Haines says, "It's probably through my efforts that it's vacant."

Haines became interested in Harris early in the summer.

At a July 30 Harris fund-raiser at the Cockeysville Volunteer Fire Station, Haines offered strong support for Harris.

"We live in a society where divorce is easier, adoption is harder, discipline is impossible and late-term abortion is 90 percent infanticide," he said. "We need men like Andy Harris."

Grass-roots campaign

Haines did not offer a formal endorsement until several weeks later, when he was comfortable that Harris reflected his views.

Facing no challengers in his re-election bid, Haines backed his endorsement by offering Harris his volunteers, advising him to conduct a door-to-door grass-roots campaign.

Such a strategy had worked for Haines when he first ran for Senate in 1990.

TC Since then, Haines, who has a shock of silver hair and usually wears a navy-blue suit, has become a staple in county politics. His annual family picnic attracted more than 4,000 supporters this year.

"I have large grass-roots support willing to go to the mat for me and contribute," he said.

The strategy worked for Harris, too. He pulled past Boozer by 613 votes.

"I'm not taking any credit for his victory," Haines said. "I think it made some difference. I do believe the help that I offered had some influence."

One piece of puzzle

Harris, a tall, thin obstetric anesthesiologist, said his family emigrated from Europe after World War II to escape communism, which is why he's a Republican.

He described his success as a puzzle with a million pieces. It was difficult to calculate what a difference Haines made, but he was a "large piece of the puzzle," he said.

Harris will face Democrat Anthony O. Blades, 61, of Monkton in the general election Nov. 3.

When Haines returns to the Senate in January, he said, he may face some opposition. But he is not concerned, he said.

'Needed a change'

"I'm sure there would be some people angry with me," Haines said. "I've always endorsed incumbents. I had respect for Vernon Boozer. He had distanced himself from conservative Republicans. I felt we needed a change."

Now that his work is done in Baltimore County, Haines said he will concentrate on the campaigns of Ellen R. Sauerbrey, Republican nominee for governor, and Del. Nancy Jacobs, a rising star among conservatives who faces a major battle against Del. Mary Louise Preis for a state Senate seat in Harford County.

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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