Incumbent Sen. McCabe sees popularity tied more to what he does in Howard Co. Challenger Hantman notes 319 missed floor votes

Campaign 1998

October 28, 1998|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

Two-term state Sen. Christopher J. McCabe says his popularity in the conservative district -- which includes Ellicott City and parts of western Howard County -- has more to do with what he does in the county than in the legislature.

"Much of the work is just solving the individual problem of a constituent," said the 42-year-old Republican, who represents District 14. "That's not something you can put in a press release."

His opponent, David S. Hantman, 28, hopes to make that point the crux of his campaign, saying McCabe has swung the pendulum too far and has missed more votes in the Senate than any of his colleagues.

He and some staffers spent several hours in Annapolis about a month ago examining McCabe's voting record and concluded the numbers speak for themselves.

"I don't think you can be an effective legislator if you don't even vote," said the Democrat, noting 319 missed floor votes in the past seven years. "That doesn't help the people of this district."

McCabe defended his record, saying he believes Hantman miscalculated the numbers and the meaning behind them. He said that even if the numbers are correct, it is a small percentage compared with the approximately 1,100 votes legislators cast every year. He said he believes Hantman included procedural votes, and that the figure is about 140, the average number of missed votes.

"Mr. Hantman appears to be searching for some plausible reason that I need to be replaced," said McCabe, a development officer for Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Hopkins School of Medicine. "No one has ever questioned my work ethic."

He said he believes his experience is what the district needs at a time when officials must work with legislators on issues such as development and growth. He also said he knows when government shouldn't intervene, such as letting families decide their children's education options.

Hantman said he would tap government resources to improve education, technology and the pace of development.

A Fordham University law school graduate, he helped start a company in 1994 that specialized in trademark protection on the Internet. He left that position in 1995 for Capitol Hill, where he was chief counsel to Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat.

"I think the key is to focus on technology," Hantman said.

He has to overcome statistics himself, in particular the popularity McCabe enjoys in a district where he is known as much for friendliness as policies. In 1994, McCabe won 55 percent of the vote against a well-financed Democrat.

Financially, McCabe also enjoys a sizable lead, having raised about $44,000 by Sept. 1 -- about $11,000 more than his challenger.

But Hantman said he hopes he can focus the campaign on the issues affecting constituents, saying McCabe is too conservative for the district. "All I ask is for voters to understand who [McCabe] is," he said.

Pub Date: 10/28/98

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