Accusations, retorts fly in race for 12th District state Senate seat Challenger calls senator beholden to PAC donors

Campaign 1998

October 22, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Republican state Senate candidate David P. Maier's electric hand-waving machine suffered a broken mechanical arm on Frederick Road the other morning. But if Catonsville Democrats see a busted campaign gimmick as an omen, they're dead wrong, he said.

Maier, who lost by 2 percent of the vote four years ago, is on the attack against incumbent 12th District state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, 53, a veteran Democrat trying to build on his narrow 1994 victory.

"He's so far out on the social scale," said Maier, 41, of Elkridge, who accuses Kasemeyer of supporting needle exchanges to combat AIDS and of being a tool of special-interest contributors and trying to hide it.

Kasemeyer, who denies his opponent's claims, is fighting back hard in a district that has become a battleground for the traditionally dominant Democrats and Republicans who believe they have momentum on their side.

"His whole mode is attacking me," said Kasemeyer, a real estate mortgage banker from Columbia who lost his 14th District Howard-Montgomery County Senate seat in 1990, only to win a new one four years later after redistricting. "I have an opinion that negative is wearing thin with the public."

The Maier-Kasemeyer contest is the most heated of several competitive races in the 12th District, which includes the southwest corner of Baltimore County, and west Columbia and sections of Ellicott City in Howard County.

Battle lines were drawn four years ago when, in addition to Maier's defeat, Republicans suffered a narrow loss in a race between GOP Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley and Democrat Stephen G. Sam Moxley. At the same time, Republicans celebrated the election of Donald E. Murphy, 38, to the House of Delegates from Catonsville.

This year, Loyd V. Smith, 53, a retired county firefighter, is hoping to join Murphy in the House. Smith and Murphy are squaring off against incumbent Democrat James E. Malone Jr., a county firefighter, and retired county police officer Steven J. DeBoy Sr., 42.

The district's third delegate serves only Howard County.

DeBoy's campaign might be hurt by a news story this week about his involvement nine years ago in an alleged incident of sexual harassment while he was a Baltimore County officer.

Murphy is hoping to benefit from the popularity of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who won the district four years ago.

In the state Senate race, Maier said Kasemeyer violated his 1994 pledge not to accept money from political action committees and tried to hide it. He said that Kasemeyer listed more than $20,000 in PAC funds inside his campaign finance reports, but not on the cover page, where a line is provided for PAC contributions.

Kasemeyer, who has served 12 years as a legislator, said his opponent's accusations are untrue or distortions.

Kasemeyer said he opposed needle exchanges in Baltimore County because he is not convinced they reduce disease, but said that if other counties want the program, it should be up to them.

As for campaign contributions, Kasemeyer said he pledged not to take PAC money in 1994 as part of an abortive bid for governor, and kept that pledge when he ran for state Senate that same year.

This year, however, he returned to taking PAC money and has raised more than $85,000 overall.

Kasemeyer insists he did nothing to conceal the money, saying a new treasurer inadvertently omitted the total from the report's cover page, although all contributions were listed inside. He said he is submitting the correct forms.

Kasemeyer bridles at suggestions that the PAC contributions make him beholden to any group, saying the money comes from a number of competing interests. The charge that he serves special interests is "a ludicrous statement," the senator said.

Maier, who reported raising $31,000, sees the PAC contributions as a sign of influence from special interests.

"I really have to hit at the power structure -- this buying of elections," said Maier, a former trucking company official who operates a specialty construction firm.

He said that he tells voters that Kasemeyer has accepted PAC money and asks them, " 'Isn't that a lot of commitments he has to meet before he meets yours?' People understand that real clearly."

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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