Senate: Miller in 27, Astle in 30 Sun endorsements: For House, Owings in 27B and Busch, Clagett, Bissett in 30 merit another term.

October 13, 1998

EXPERIENCED, pragmatic politicians represent Legislative District 30 in the General Assembly. They should be re-elected.

Democratic Sen. John C. Astle has been a legislator since 1982. He was a delegate for three terms before becoming senator in 1994. A retired Marine pilot who flew the presidential helicopter for Richard M. Nixon, Mr. Astle now flies a medical chopper for the Washington Hospital Center. He is a fiscal and social conservative, which suits the district. The 30th covers eastern Anne Arundel, hopscotching across two peninsulas and the city of Annapolis.

His Republican opponent, Peter James DeNucci, also is a pilot. However, his grasp of government doesn't compare to Mr. Astle's.

The delegates up for re-election in District 30 -- Democrats PTC Michael E. Busch and Virginia P. Clagett and Republican Phillip Bissett -- are also solid lawmakers.

As chairman of the Economic Matters Committee, Mr. Busch has overseen complex legislation on business and health issues. He has been a moderate voice in a polarized legislature.

Ms. Clagett, who served two decades on the Anne Arundel County Council before her election to the House, has done a good job representing agricultural and environmental interests.

Mr. Bissett, chairman of the county's State House delegation, didn't succeed in preventing infighting, but he can't for faulted for trying.

Richard D'Amato, a Democrat, is the only challenger who offers a credible challenge. But the former congressional staff member is not well-versed on local issues. As for the other Republicans, Anthony McConkey has been disbarred as an attorney and had his real estate license revoked for allegedly misspending money in a failed real estate development. Edward J. Turner, a recent county transplant, has insufficient local political experience.

Farther south, District 27 is historically agricultural -- one of Maryland's last bastions of tobacco farming. Although the area's orientation is changing from rural to bedroom community, it remains solidly conservative; Most voters oppose gun control, support smaller government and are, understandably, pro-tobacco.

For Senate, South County voters will choose between incumbent Democrat Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., one of the most influential politicians in the state as president of the Maryland Senate, and Republican Robert A. Sturgell.

Mr. Sturgell is a competent and energetic campaigner. A South County native and graduate of the Naval Academy, he has been a Navy pilot, a lawyer and is currently an operations manager with United Airlines.

But given Mr. Miller's position as leader of the General Assembly's upper chamber, and his ability to attend to the needs of the district, which includes parts of Prince George's and Calvert counties, replacing him would be a mistake.

For the single delegate seat in District 27B, we endorse the re-election of George W. Owings III. A conservative Democrat, Mr. Owings has represented the agricultural interests of the district.

Tomorrow: District 31

Pub Date: 10/13/98

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