Shuffling of GOP to end soon

Committee to fill vacant delegate seat next week

January 15, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Howard County's Republicans will soon complete an unusual round of political musical chairs that has seen two state senators and then a delegate resign.

Next week, the last of those vacancies is to be filled - likely by Gail H. Bates, a former top aide to Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker in the '90s and a Republican County Council candidate in 1998, party officials and candidates say.

Bates, 56, of West Friendship, is competing for a seat in the House of Delegates against Trent Kittleman, 56, another experienced Republican activist and wife of Sen. Robert H. Kittleman, and Anthony C. Wisniewski, 28, of Ellicott City, an attorney with the Baltimore firm of Tydings and Rosenberg.

"I think the central committee will appoint Gail," Trent Kittleman said, adding, however, that she plans to compete in the belief that "I'm the better candidate" based on years of experience at the state and national political level."[Bates has] been around and involved in the party for 16 years. You have to do what's best for the people of the 14th District," said Louis M. Pope, Howard's Republican Party chairman.

Wisniewski, a Mount Hebron High School graduate, Eagle Scout and a Republican activist since age 14, is not conceding anything. "If you know what you want and you know how to achieve it, then do it," he said.

Trent Kittleman called Wisniewski "a wonderful candidate" who could win, but whose best chance probably "will be in the future."

She did not know Bates wanted the seat when she entered the race, Trent Kittleman said. "The party needs to be together 100 percent."

Bates is recovering from a broken shoulder blade she suffered in an auto accident caused by last week's ice storm, she said.

"I fought the tree - and the tree won. I'm fine - a few bruises," she said yesterday. The injury won't stop her from competing for the delegate seat at a party central committee meeting Jan. 23, she said.

"I would really like the position. It's a position I believe I'm eminently prepared for."

The vacancy was created last week when Del. Robert Kittleman resigned to take the state Senate seat vacated by Christopher J. McCabe. McCabe resigned Jan. 7 to take a job with the Bush administration. Howard's other Republican state senator, Martin G. Madden, resigned the same day and has been replaced with Sandra B. Schrader, his former legislative aide.

The party has sought replacements for all three posts with an eye toward next year's elections, and since western Howard is home to the GOP's strongest constituency, Senator Kittleman and whoever gets his house seat should have a good start toward winning full four-year terms in a new District 9, covering western Howard and southern Carroll counties.

Bates' edge over the other two candidates appears to be based mainly in her long experience in local GOP politics.

"If anybody can hit the ground running, it will be Gail Bates," said Del. Donald E. Murphy, a Republican, who has employed Bates as an aide for the past three years.

"She will be there whether she gets picked or not," he said, referring to her duties three days a week in his Annapolis office during the 90-day General Assembly session that began last week.

"My sense is, the [central committee] votes are there for her," said Murphy, who represents parts of Baltimore and Howard counties.

A Howard County resident since the mid-1970s, Bates is an accountant who worked nearly eight years in the Ecker administration as one of two top aides.

Bates served on the GOP central committee for eight years before that, and helped Charles C. Feaga get elected to the County Council in 1990.

She lost her attempt to win a council seat in 1998, despite Feaga's help. Allan H. Kittleman, Senator Kittleman's son, won the Republican primary and the election.

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