Robey seeks party support

At Democratic club, incumbent confident, cautious about election

Taking Adler seriously

With new redistricting, Democrats hope to gain more ground in county

April 11, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A confident Howard County executive and two congressmen appealed to their party's faithful for support in this year's elections at last night's monthly forum of the venerable Columbia Democratic Club.

Though he is unopposed in the Democratic primary, so far, County Executive James N. Robey told a group of about 30 core supporters at Jeffers Hill Neighborhood Center that he is confident of re-election in November. And although a seemingly popular incumbent now rather than the novice underdog of 1998, he is taking nothing for granted, Robey said.

"Some people, Republicans, have told me it's a slam dunk, `don't worry,' " Robey said. But he takes likely Republican challenger Steven H. Adler very seriously.

"I'm not going to wake up [on Nov. 6] and say `If only I had done ... '" he said.

Robey ran through a list of his accomplishments as executive - including increased money for schools, public safety and county employees, and keeping county income and property taxes down - but he acknowledged not providing enough moderate-income housing.

The club is determined to preserve the gains Democrats made in Howard four years ago, when they captured the executive's job and control of the County Council.

Now, with congressional redistricting, they are also celebrating the shifting of Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings' 7th District to include part of Howard - and removing the county from conservative Republican Roscoe G. Bartlett's 6th District.

"Redistricting did a lot of good things for Howard County," club President Neil Quinter told the group. Now, Howard will have Cummings and liberal Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin, whose 3rd District will continue to include a portion of the county.

Both congressmen spoke, with Cummings stressing his support for increased drug treatment, education equity and a prescription drug plan for senior citizens, which Cardin also stressed.

"When I came in the room, I was very moved by so many people who said, `We're so glad you're representing us.' My values are just like yours," Cummings said.

Although Republicans were not invited to the Democrats' gathering, Adler earlier claimed his candidacy and public statements have pushed Robey to more fiscal restraint, and a greater role in finding a site for a new crisis center.

"I see that even my candidacy has made a difference," Adler said.

Robey scoffed at both claims.

"Is he going to take credit for every good thing I've done? I'm no more or less involved [in the crisis center] than I have been all along. I look forward to the debates we will surely have," he said.

For Congress, there are two other candidates for the Cummings seat - Democrat Charles U. Smith, 52, a former Republican, and Republican Joseph E. Ward, who once was a Democrat. Both live in Baltimore. Smith was invited last night but did not appear.

As a Republican, Smith ran for Congress in 2000, and the year before ran for Baltimore comptroller.

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