Schrader apparent GOP choice

Rivals for final year of Madden's term in Senate bow out

November 28, 2001|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Competition among Republicans seeking to serve the final year of departing state Sen. Martin G. Madden's term melted away yesterday, leaving Sandra Schrader as the heir-apparent.

"I think the consensus rapidly built that Sandy is the best person for the Senate seat. She has a record of tremendous service, and she's an educator," Madden said, referring to Schrader's years of substitute teaching.

Madden, who represents southeastern Howard and the Laurel area of Prince George's County, has said he will resign his seat Jan. 7 to return to private business. He decided to leave a year before his term ends to give his replacement experience and the chance to run for a full term as an incumbent.

Three Republicans, including Schrader, 47 -Madden's legislative aide for 11 years - have been vying for the appointment, which is to be made by the party's state central committees for Howard and Prince George's counties.

Howard County GOP chairman Louis M. Pope said he is deferring to Schrader "because Sandy can most effectively hold that seat [in the 2002 election]."

Keeping the state Senate seat Republican for a full term is the ultimate party goal, he said. "I am a Republican first, and always think in terms of the party," he said.

Bob Adams, a 32-year old novice candidate from Long Reach, said he, too, has decided to bow out, though he may run for the seat next year.

"The long and short of it is, I think the writing was on the wall [for Schrader] before the bricks and mortar went up," said Adams, who is media director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, an association of state legislators in Washington.

Schrader, whose husband, Dennis, was the GOP nominee for Howard County executive in 1998, may be the choice of the party central committees, but the voters get their say next year, Adams said.

"There are two separate events. I have an obligation to see that this seat is retained [by Republicans] and to give voters a choice," Adams said.

Democrats are also angling for the seat, with five-term County Councilman C. Vernon Gray as an undeclared candidate.

"I think that will be an interesting campaign. She's an interesting person," Gray said.

"I look forward to the challenge as well as to debating her on the issues," Gray said, adding that he's "getting together a little exploratory committee" to examine a state Senate bid.

Schrader was surprised to learn about Adams' decision, but she refused to claim victory. "I'm cautiously optimistic and obviously very excited at the prospect of this actually happening. I'm still in a little bit of shock here," she said.

She and Pope have been talking, she said, "to make this a calm, amiable" process. Pope said he hoped Adams would run for a seat in the House of Delegates, where the party needs candidates, rather than challenge a party designee for Madden's Senate seat. "I like Bob Adams very much. He will make a very good candidate for delegate," Pope said.

Schrader is scheduled to be interviewed by Prince George's party central committee members Monday, and by Howard's committee, of which she is a member, Dec. 20.

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