4 officials running without opposition

Kittleman and Bobo among those who may be given a free pass

Howard County

July 10, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A free pass is rare in politics, but four Howard County officials running for re-election this year have one - so far.

Unless the county's Republican and Democratic parties draft candidates to run, state Sen. Robert H. Kittleman and Register of Wills Kay K. Hartleb, both Republicans, and Del. Elizabeth Bobo and Sheriff Charles M. Cave, both Democrats, will get new four-year terms without opposition.

Several new General Assembly candidates filed before Monday night's deadline - but in already contested races.

County Democratic Party leader Wendy Fiedler said her party might give Hartleb a pass because her office is strictly administrative, but she would like to find someone to run against Kittleman "to give the voters out there a choice."

Hartleb, a 15-year incumbent whose office administers estates through probate, says she is "holding my breath. I'm very hopeful that they won't find anyone who qualifies."

County Republican Party Chairman Louis M. Pope said he has been looking for candidates to oppose the Democrats, but he said, "It's possible that both sides will wind up with no one at all." The parties have until Tuesday to file against Cave and Hartleb, and until July 23 for the General Assembly seats.

"Obviously, I'm very pleased," Cave said. "I really hope it's an indication that the people feel I've done a good job."

Pope said he would like to find someone to run against Bobo. "I dislike her policies worse than ever," he said, explaining that the reason no Republican wants to run against Bobo in her west Columbia one-delegate district is rooted in the 1998 election.

Then-GOP candidate Todd A. Arterburn "poured his heart, soul and money into that race and still did not come close," Pope said. Arterburn lost 13 of 16 precincts and got 36 percent of the vote.

Bobo said that for her it is a "different" situation. "I'm used to strong opposition that usually spends more money than I do."

Similarly, Kittleman's western county district is strongly Republican, especially now that redistricting has placed a third of it in Carroll County rather than in Montgomery.

"It's a packed district," Kittleman said. Democrats created a new District 9 that concentrates Republican voters in one place to maximize their chances to prevail elsewhere.

Reasons for opposition

But Kittleman said there are other reasons to put up an opponent, even one who might not campaign hard. One is to see how many votes a candidate attracts even without hard campaigning. "That gives them the base vote," he said, and reveals whether a more serious run is in order for the next election. If a candidate can attract 35 percent of the vote without trying, a serious campaign four years later may produce victory.

The other reason is to keep an incumbent official busy - too busy to spend unneeded campaign money to help party mates in other districts.

Among the newest candidates, Frank C. Fillmore Jr. filed to oppose state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, forcing a Democratic primary in District 12, and Edward L. Patrick of Columbia filed to oppose state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, forcing a Republican primary in District 13.

Hot race in District 13

That southeastern county district appears to be a magnet for candidates. Brandon Braunlich, a Republican who had planned a state Senate run, filed as a candidate for delegate in District 13 instead. Republicans John Stafford of North Laurel and Charles H. Fiege and Stephen Washington - both of Columbia - also filed. That brings to six the number of Republicans running for three nominations in the primary Sept. 10. Five Democrats have filed for the same three seats.

In District 12A, shared with Baltimore County, Democrat Craig Ring of Catonsville filed, and Anthony McGuffin of Ellicott City joined Democrats running in District 9A.

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