Tough race looms for seat in new district

Six Republicans, two Democrats vie for S. Carroll delegate slot

`Make them fight every battle'

Redistricting map leaves most voters with familiar names on ballot

July 09, 2002|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Redistricting has created a wide-open tussle for the new state delegate seat in South Carroll, but voters in the rest of the county are left after last night's filing deadline with a familiar set of choices, including Republican incumbents running for the remaining Senate and delegate seats.

Though most county residents will not be voting for the same combinations of candidates for the General Assembly as in previous years, most will see familiar names on their ballots.

"The redistricting really didn't create a different kind of constituency in Carroll, so I would be surprised if a different picture emerged from the election," said Donald Jansiewicz, a retired political scientist who taught at Carroll Community College.

Under last month's court-issued revision of the state legislative map, Carroll will have three delegates to itself, share one delegate with Frederick County and share three senators with Frederick, Howard and Baltimore counties. Incumbent Republican candidates include Sens. Timothy R. Ferguson and Larry E. Haines and Dels. Carmen Amedori, Nancy R. Stocksdale and Donald B. Elliott.

Ferguson faces strong Republican opposition from Del. David R. Brinkley and David P. Gray, the president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, who was among a handful of candidates to file yesterday.

Democrats, who represent 36 percent of county voters and lack experienced candidates, will offer opposition in almost every race. Westminster residents Ronald Zepp and Kimberly J. Petry joined the pack yesterday. Zepp filed to oppose three-term incumbent Haines in the 5th District and Petry filed to oppose Amedori and Stocksdale in delegate District 5A.

"We're looking to make them fight every battle," said Thomas McCarron, chairman of the county's Democratic State Central Committee, who said he would be happy to win a race or two. McCarron said his candidates will attack Republicans for letting their malice toward Gov. Parris N. Glendening prevent them "from bringing anything back to Carroll."

Republicans said they would hammer on the same issues -- strong support for gun rights and the death penalty and criticism of Glendening's spending policies -- that carried them to past victories.

"We welcome the competition," said Amedori, who will run with Stocksdale for the two delegate seats representing northern, central and eastern Carroll.

The most unpredictable battle appears to loom in the newly created South Carroll delegate district, which includes Sykesville, Eldersburg and Finksburg. Two Democrats and six Republicans, none of them incumbent legislators, will vie for that seat.

Democrats believe they can win the South Carroll delegate race and crack the Republican monopoly on the county's delegation to Annapolis, but Republican Party officials say registration numbers suggest they will maintain control.

"The real fight in South Carroll is in the primary," said Robert Wolfing, chairman of the county's Republican State Central Committee. "I think we'll win handily in the general election."

Republicans make up about 55 percent of registered voters in the South Carroll district, and the party's primary field includes experienced public servants in former County Commissioner Richard T. Yates and Board of Education President Susan Krebs. The field also includes veteran party activists Larry Helminiak and Robert L. Tabler Jr. and first-time candidates Michael D. Zimmer and Michael R. Guerin, who filed yesterday.

Yates, 77, surprised party officials when he filed for the race Friday. "We need somebody down here who can get us relief on the growth squeeze," he said. "When I was commissioner, I always had to get another vote to do what I wanted. It will be different in the General Assembly."

The Democratic primary will include Eldersburg attorney Kenneth Holniker, who takes his long record as a party activist to the race, and political unknown Anita Lombardi Riley, also of Eldersburg.

Democrats hope they can play on South Carroll's general dissatisfaction with county and state Republican leadership, McCarron said. Community leaders in the region have routinely bashed the county's delegation for its stubborn resistance to Glendening's Smart Growth policies.

"I think eventually, a Democrat will get elected down there, though maybe not this year," said Jansiewicz, the retired political science professor.

On the Senate side, Republican Haines has represented the district for 12 years, but he will no longer be an option for South Carroll voters, who will share a state senator with Howard County. Republican incumbent Robert H. Kittleman is running unopposed for that seat.

"I think we will be better served," said Ross Dangel, chairman of the Freedom Area Citizens Council, an unofficial liaison between South Carroll residents and county government. "Haines has not done well representing constituents down here. His ultra-conservative viewpoints don't reflect those of the more moderate folks in South Carroll."

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