State's attorney's race in dead heat absentees to decide

Challenger McCrone leads incumbent McLendon by 166 votes


Election 1998

November 04, 1998|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

The race for Howard County state's attorney was a dead heat last night with Democratic newcomer Timothy J. McCrone holding a tiny lead over Republican incumbent Marna L. McLendon and absentee ballots yet to be counted.

In what would be a stunning upset, McCrone was on top with 37,445 votes to McLendon's 37,279.

McLendon was heavily favored after winning in 1994 on a tough-on-crime campaign.

Results for other courthouse races were:

Chief Deputy Sheriff Charles M. Cave, a Republican, was leading Democrat G. Russell Walters in the race for sheriff, with 56.88 percent of the vote to Walters' 42.96 percent, with 85 of 87 precincts reporting.

Republican incumbent Margaret D. Rappaport was in the lead in the race for clerk of the Circuit Court with 57.46 percent of the vote, leading Democratic challenger Leslie J. Cale, who had 42.36 percent with 85 out of 87 precincts reporting

Kay K. Hartleb, a Republican who has served as the county's register of wills since 1986, was in the lead with 54.7 percent, topping Columbia Democrat Patricia S. Gordon's 45.1 percent with 85 of 87 precincts reporting.

In the race for three seats on Orphans' Court, with 85 of 87 precincts reporting, Republican Joyce Pope had 18.5 percent, followed by Democrat Sherae M. McNeal with 17.6 percent. Democrat Paul L. Bush and Republican Charles M. Coles Jr. each had 16.6 percent. Other candidates were Democrat John W. Higgins with 15.2 percent and Republican James R. Patterson, with 15.1 percent.

McLendon, who raised $19,000 for the race, launched a half-dozen cable TV ads promoting her office's record and involvement in victims' rights and crime prevention programs.

McCrone, an Ellicott City attorney, sharply criticized McLendon's office for what he called "lackluster prosecution" and "an embarrassingly low" conviction rate in criminal trials. In $4,000 worth of cable TV ads, McCrone pointed to a high turnover of prosecutors during McLendon's four-year tenure and criticized her travel to conferences that kept her away from the office. He claimed that "over 20 prosecutors" left the office during McLendon's tenure.

To establish himself, McCrone often stressed the endorsements he received from the county's police, firefighter and teacher unions in his ads and at public appearances.

McLendon, a former police officer turned prosecutor, denounced the ads as being "misleading" and "wrong." She focused her campaign on the programs she created to help victims, deter juvenile crime and get prosecutors involved in local communities.

"My opposition is being intellectually dishonest and mischaracterizing exceptional work by our prosecutors by focusing on a tiny fraction of the overall cases we handled," she said.

McLendon said the turnover of prosecutors in her office is "normal and healthy." She said there is an average of 10 years experience among the attorneys in the office.

She said 13 prosecutors have resigned during her term, which began in 1995; her total prosecutorial staff is 23.

Turnover was also an issue in the race for court clerk.

Cale, 41, has said she was approached by co-workers and friends in the office who encouraged her to run. She claimed there was "high turnover" in the office but was unable to provide numbers.

Rappaport said four people have retired this year. She says her office is a friendly, helpful place that guides some 1,000 people a day seeking licenses, court files or land records.

The sheriff's race drew the attention of longtime law enforcement officials when Walters, who served as a state trooper for 22 years and was Howard County police chief for six years in the 1970s, entered.

In his campaign, Cave, 61, stressed his 28 years as a former Maryland state trooper and his eight-year tenure as chief deputy sheriff under Sheriff Michael A. Chiuchiolo, who cleaned up the office's fiscal and managerial operations. Chiuchiolo is retiring this year.

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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