Balto. County Council's Gardina decides to seek re-election, not state Senate seat

New redistricting map, tough races were factors

July 02, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Switching course at the last minute, Baltimore County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina announced yesterday that he's dropping his state Senate bid and running for re-election instead.

The surprise move all but guarantees hard-fought battles in the primary and general elections in the County Council's 5th District, which runs from Towson through Perry Hall to the eastern edge of the county.

Gardina, a three-term Democrat from Perry Hall, will face the winner of the Sept. 10 Republican primary, a contest between first-term Councilman Wayne M. Skinner of Towson and Del. James F. Ports Jr. of Perry Hall.

Gardina had turned to the Senate race in the aftermath of County Council redistricting last summer, when he and Skinner were placed in the same district. But he said the Maryland Court of Appeals' decision to overturn district lines drawn by the governor and to draft a map of its own gave him second thoughts.

Gardina said the 7th District, where he was to have run for Senate, included communities with which he was less familiar. Also, he would have faced difficult races in the primary and general elections.

"I was thinking, if that's the case, my heart has always been with the council, and I'd prefer to stay in the council race," he said.

Gardina's shift to the council race is good for Democrats - the party had no other candidates ready to run there. A few names had circulated in the weeks since his announcement that he would run for the Senate, but none could match Gardina's profile.

"Vince is the strongest person they could put up that was available," Skinner said, adding that he welcomed Gardina back to the race.

Ports, who gained county-wide notice during a series of debates with County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger over an east-side revitalization plan, said he has long been looking forward to a race against Gardina.

"I've been doing a lot of his work anyway," Ports said. "People call him up, they don't get a response, and they call me and they get a response."

Gardina scoffed at Ports' assessment.

"I've been elected three times in that district by large majorities, so evidently somebody thinks I'm doing the job pretty well," he said.

Last night's filing deadline for county races passed without any other surprises. Democrat James T. Smith Jr., a former circuit judge, and Douglas B. Riley, a Republican and former councilman, will be unopposed in their primaries.

Incumbents in the council's 2nd, 6th and 7th districts, all Democrats, will run unopposed.

In the 1st District, Councilman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, faces a rematch from Berchie Manley, the Republican former councilwoman he defeated eight years ago.

Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a north county Republican, is opposed in the 3rd District primary by Glen Arm businessman Daniel E. McKew.

The most crowded race will be in the 4th District, which was created by the council in last summer's redistricting process to increase the odds that the county will elect its first-ever black councilman. Seven candidates - four of them black and three white - are vying for the council seat there.

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