Curran defeats Rappaport, wins unprecedented 4th term He campaigned on record as consumer advocate and foe of tobacco industry

State attorney general

Election 1998 : Maryland

November 04, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Democrat J. Joseph Curran Jr. won an unprecedented fourth term as Maryland's attorney general yesterday as he cruised to an overwhelming victory over Republican Paul H. Rappaport.

With voting in 98 percent of the state's precincts tallied, Curran led Rappaport by a nearly 2-1 margin.

Curran easily defeated the underfinanced Rappaport after a campaign that took place in the shadow of the most expensive governor's campaign in Maryland history.

By winning, Curran continues a remarkable run of electoral success dating to his election to the House of Delegates in 1958.

The veteran Baltimore politician also became the first Maryland attorney general to win a fourth term since it became an elective office in 1864, breaking the three-term record of Francis Burch, who served from 1966 to 1978. Curran's tenure in the office will be second only to that of Luther Barton, who served from 1778 to 1805 -- when the job was an appointive position.

Rappaport, 64, waged an aggressive campaign but had a hard time overcoming his late start in the race. He entered his candidacy July 2 -- four days before the filing deadline -- after Ellen R. Sauerbrey decided not to offer him a chance to repeat his 1994 role as her running mate. He won the Republican nomination by default because no other GOP candidate filed.

As of Oct. 18, the deadline for the last campaign finance report, Curran had raised $379,287 -- not a huge figure for a statewide race, but more than enough to eclipse Rappaport's $58,104.

The Republican based his campaign against Curran mostly on crime issues. A former state police major and Howard County police chief, Rappaport charged that the incumbent attorney general had bungled or frustrated several investigations and failed to act energetically against drug distributors.

Rappaport's campaign received a boost last month when he revealed unreleased state police data showing drastic declines in the amount of illegal drugs being seized by troopers patrolling Interstate 95. He attributed the drop to a loss of confidence among troopers that Curran's office would adequately defend them if they were sued by a minority group member in a search-and-seizure case.

But the publicity about that issue was not enough to overcome Curran's track record as a consumer advocate and a foe of the tobacco industry.

His office is suing large tobacco companies on behalf of the state for recovery of the Medicaid costs of smoking-related illnesses -- an initiative that Rappaport promised without enthusiasm to continue.

Curran's re-election ensures that there will be no major changes in the state's strategy for handling that case.

As the numbers piled up for his opponent shortly before 10 p.m., Rappaport conceded the race at close to 11 p.m. He said he had no "visions of grandeur" and knew all along he would have problems in the race.

"I had only four months to go from ground zero," Rappaport said. "Considering no money, no time, no organization, I think we did fabulous."

Md. attorney general

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. TP .. ..PR .. Curran .. Pct .. Rappaport .. Pct

Western Maryland

Allegany .. .. .. .. .. 36 .. . 36 ... 8,481 ... 56 ... 6,741 .. .. 44

Frederick .. .. .. .. . 51 .. . 51 .. 22,345 ... 45 .. 26,780 .. .. 55

Garrett .. .. . .. .. . 16 .. . 16 ... 2,507 ... 35 ... 4,559 .. .. 65

Washington .. .. .. ... 43 .. . 43 .. 13,615 ... 45 .. 16,623 .. .. 55

Reg Totals .. .. .. .. 146 ... 146 .. 46,948 ... 46 .. 54,703 .. .. 54

Eastern Maryland

Caroline .. .. .. .. ... 9 .. .. 9 ... 3,140 ... 50 ... 3,161 .. .. 50

Cecil .. .. .. .. .. .. 14 .. . 14 ... 9,831 ... 52 ... 9,101 .. .. 48

Dorchester .. .. .. ... 36 .. . 36 ... 4,656 ... 61 ... 2,967 .. .. 39

Kent .. .. .. .. .. ... 10 .. . 10 ... 3,646 ... 61 ... 2,326 .. .. 39

Queen Anne's .. .. .. . 11 .. . 11 ... 6,171 ... 51 ... 5,997 .. .. 49

Somerset .. .. .. .. .. 22 .. . 22 ... 2,827 ... 53 ... 2,512 .. .. 47

Talbot .. .. .. .. .. . 16 .. . 16 ... 5,166 ... 49 ... 5,432 .. .. 51

Wicomico .. .. .. .. .. 34 .. . 34 .. 10,695 ... 54 ... 9,115 .. .. 46

Worcester .. .. .. .. . 12 .. . 12 ... 7,721 ... 53 ... 6,746 .. .. 47

Reg Totals .. .. .. .. 164 ... 164 .. 53,853 ... 53 .. 47,357 .. .. 47

Central Maryland

Anne Arundel .. .. ... 166 ... 166 .. 79,698 ... 55 .. 64,462 .. .. 45

Baltimore Co. .. .. .. 187 ... 187 . 152,480 ... 67 .. 76,743 .. .. 33

Baltimore .. .. .. ... 325 ... 325 . 130,551 ... 89 .. 15,428 .. .. 11

Carroll .. .. .. .. .. 43 .. .. 43 .. 19,178 ... 44 .. 24,837 .. .. 56

Harford .. .. .. .. .. 57 .. .. 57 .. 38,483 ... 56 .. 29,897 .. .. 44

Howard .. .. .. .. ... 85 .. .. 85 .. 40,760 ... 52 .. 37,187 .. .. 48

Reg Totals .. .. .. . 863 .. . 863 . 461,150 ... 65 . 248,554 .. .. 35

Southern Maryland

Calvert .. .. .. .. .. 15 .. .. 15 .. 10,405 ... 52 ... 9,759 .. .. 48

Charles .. .. .. .. .. 28 .. .. 28 .. 15,421 ... 53 .. 13,712 .. .. 47

St. Mary's .. .. .. .. 20 .. .. 20 .. 10,702 ... 55 ... 8,752 .. .. 45

Reg Totals .. .. .. .. 63 .. .. 63 .. 36,528 ... 53 .. 32,223 .. .. 47

Washington Suburbs

Montgomery .. .. .. . 227 .. . 227 . 162,040 ... 64 .. 91,269 .. .. 36

Prince George's .. .. 199 .. . 199 . 138,528 ... 79 .. 36,711 .. .. 21

Reg Totals .. .. .. . 426 .. . 426 . 300,568 ... 70 . 127,980 .. .. 30

Totals .. .. .. ... 1,662 .. 1,662 . 899,047 ... 64 . 510,817 .. .. 36

TP = total precincts; PR = precincts reporting

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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