Assembly race is rematch of 1994 Democrat again tries to oust GOP incumbent in District 13B

Campaign 1998

October 29, 1998|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

Come Tuesday, says Democrat John A. Giannetti Jr., he is certain that he will have knocked on every single door in the legislative district he wants to represent in the House of Delegates.

The energetic young lawyer, who serves on the Laurel Board of Appeals, knows he has a lot of voters to reach if he is to defeat Republican Del. John S. Morgan in District 13B, which stretches from Howard County to Prince George's County and includes Laurel and pockets of North Laurel.

"I can knock on 100 doors a day," said Giannetti, 34. "And if I have one other person, I can knock on 200 doors."

Four years ago, Morgan defeated Giannetti by a wide margin, reclaiming the House of Delegates seat that he first won in 1990.

"I am seeking re-election because I still have a lot of unfinished business to get done," Morgan said this week while cradling his 1-year-old son, Joseph, in their North Laurel home. "Eight years ago, North Laurel was underrepresented. It was basically ignored and had no representation," he said. "That has changed."

Morgan, 34, who is running on a ticket with Sen. Martin G. Madden, says that during the past eight years in the Maryland General Assembly he has worked to improve education for Laurel residents, fought for mandatory sentences for violent offenders and initiated the opposition that kept the Washington Redskins stadium from being built in Laurel.

"We've fought over a dozen zoning issues here in Laurel," Morgan said. "We've won some and we've lost some. But for those we won, the people of Laurel are much better off."

Morgan began his political career at age 26, four years after he moved to Howard County in 1986.

Over the past few years, he has become a leader in the state Republican Party. This year, he was considered by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey as a possible running mate. Richard D. Bennett was her choice for the ticket.

"I was honored to have been considered by Ellen," Morgan said. "It showed that I am a leader in the state."

But Morgan has been sharply criticized for being too conservative and out of step with the voters of Laurel.

"He is too far right-wing and has alienated many people in his district," said Giannetti, who added that Morgan's record on domestic violence, education and assault weapons is at odds with voters. "John is against any type of reasonable gun control, and no one has held him accountable."

A former bill analyst and aide in the House of Delegates, Giannetti criticized Morgan for missing 41 votes in the General Assembly in 1996 while Morgan campaigned in an unsuccessful bid against U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer in the congressional 5th District.

"He hasn't done a single thing and he barely shows up in the Assembly to vote," Giannetti said.

What the two candidates can agree on is that fighting crime throughout the district should be a priority.

They pointed to the death last month of Gilberto Hernandez, 35, as evidence that crime is rising in the area. Seven Laurel teen-agers have been charged in the killing.

"There is a dangerous injustice done to most victims of crime," said Giannetti. "I want victims to be notified by a computerized system once the person who committed the crime is up for bond review or parole."

Morgan, who supports the death penalty, said the juvenile justice system doesn't work. "We're producing career criminals instead of turning people around," Morgan said. "We spend too much time on rehabilitation and not enough time on justice."

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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