Lone black voting district on Eastern Shore elects its 1st African-American Democrat Rudolph Cane ends four-year campaign for district created in '94

State delegate

Election 1998: Maryland

November 04, 1998|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY -- For the first time, the only majority-black legislative district on the Eastern Shore will be represented by an African-American lawmaker.

Rudolph C. Cane of Hebron yesterday successfully ended his four-year quest to win a seat in the House of Delegates.

With all the ballots counted, the Democrat won 63 percent of the vote to 37 percent for his Republican opponent, Jacqueline B. Jones, a 43-year-old black professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Lost by 20 votes

Cane, a former Wicomico County commissioner, acknowledged he never stopped running for the seat he lost by 20 votes in 1994.

"This is going to be a great opportunity for the minority community," Cane said. "This is an example for young people, to show there is hope."

Cane said there was a great deal of interest and concern in the district for President Clinton as he faces impeachment proceedings in the Republican-controlled House.

"I think that worked in our favor. People rejected all the negative tactics," he said.

Four years ago, Cane and former Dorchester County Commissioner Lemuel D. Chester II, who ran as an independent, split the black vote, handing the victory to a white Republican, farmer Don B. Hughes.

When Hughes chose not to seek a second term this year, he endorsed Jones, his legislative aide, in the District 37A race.

"I tried to do the right thing, to be open minded, to listen to people," Jones said last night. "Overall I feel it's been a worthwhile experience."

The district, which includes parts of Dorchester and Wicomico counties, was redrawn under a 1994 federal court order after civil rights activists filed a lawsuit challenging the way the district was drawn by the General Assembly.

60% black district

Sixty percent of the district's 32,758 residents are African-Americans, making it the only majority-black Assembly district in the state outside Prince George's County and Baltimore. More than 64 percent of the district's nearly 18,000 voters are registered Democrats.

In September, Cane easily won the Democratic primary, beating Troy A. Johnson, a white candidate who is the son of former Del. Samuel Q. Johnson, and Cambridge City Councilwoman Octavene Saunders.

As he did in the primary election, Cane drew heavy support from predominantly black northwest Salisbury, where he worked for years to build an organization to register new voters and get them to the polls.

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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