GOP's Leopold testing waters for Senate race

The Political Game

Challenge: The Arundel delegate says he might run against Sarbanes if Ehrlich and Morella pass.

August 10, 1999|By Michael Dresser and David Folkenflik | Michael Dresser and David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

A VETERAN Republican state legislator said yesterday that he is considering a challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes next year -- if two better-known GOP figures take a rain check.

Anne Arundel County Del. John R. Leopold, the only former Hawaiian legislator in the General Assembly, said prominent GOP leaders have asked him to think about running against Sarbanes.

The four-term Maryland delegate said he would not make up his mind until he learns whether U.S. Reps. Constance A. Morella or Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. plan to jump into the race. Leopold said he wouldn't run if either were to take on Sarbanes.

Ehrlich, from Baltimore County, and Morella, from Montgomery County, are both well-entrenched representatives who would have to give up their seats to face Sarbanes. But neither can count on a secure seat after 2000 because Democrats will control redistricting.

Leopold, 56, said he has already gone door to door to determine how well he is known among voters in counties besides his own. He said the results were encouraging in Baltimore County, but not in Prince George's.

A challenge to Sarbanes would be a struggle for Leopold or any other Republican -- especially after the Democrats flexed their voter-turnout muscle so effectively in the 1998 gubernatorial election. The professorial incumbent, who always seems to look vulnerable in non-election years, has a track record of bouncing back every six years.

But the Anne Arundel Republican, who characterizes himself as "a common-sense, pragmatic conservative," sounded eager to take on Sarbanes. "The incumbent's been there for 24 years, and that's a long time," Leopold said.

Democrats start jockeying for majority whip position

Still seem a little early to be talking presidential politics? Then you'll be flabbergasted by the current intrigue on Capitol Hill.

A trio of Democrats, including Southern Maryland Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, are already off and running for majority whip, third-highest House position.

Two hitches: the job is not scheduled to be up for grabs until after the November 2000 elections, and there is no guarantee that the Democrats (who currently have 10 fewer seats than the Republicans) will retake the House next year. If the Democrats do not win control, House Minority Whip David E. Bonior of Michigan is expected to retain his leadership post.

Nonetheless, Hoyer, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and Georgia Rep. John Lewis are all seeking the job.

Both men blame Pelosi, daughter of former Baltimore Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., for the early start to the race. She's making no apologies: She has held a series of Washington dinners at which she sought the support of colleagues.

While Lewis has asked his rivals to hold off running for the seat, Hoyer refuses to leave the field to Pelosi. Instead, Hoyer plans to meet one on one with Democratic lawmakers to press his cause. And this month he is traveling around the country, raising money for colleagues and grooming Democratic candidates.

Road leads Winstead back to Annapolis

David L. Winstead, who was unceremoniously bounced as Gov. Parris N. Glendening's transportation secretary in January, has found a road back to Annapolis. He has been hired by the Rockville City Council to lobby the General Assembly for road money next session. The council set aside $30,000 for his services.

Glendening replaced Winstead with John D. Porcari, the department's second in command. Winstead, a Bethesda resident, returned to his Washington law firm to head the government affairs department.

Winstead applied for the Rockville job in February, when the state's third-largest city put out a request for bids.

Pub Date: 8/10/99

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