GOP fields candidate in race for sheriff

But no contest among 5 at courthouse has primary challengers

Howard County

July 19, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

With just more than an hour to go before this week's filing deadline for party-appointed candidates, Edward Armanas walked into the Howard County elections board Tuesday and submitted his name as a Republican candidate for sheriff.

Armanas' decision to run against incumbent Sheriff Charles M. Cave, a Democrat who won election in 1998 as a Republican, was the last entry in what has, so far, been a sleeper of an election year among county courthouse races.

No race among the five - sheriff, state's attorney, register of wills, clerk of the Circuit Court and Orphans' Court judges - has a contested primary. One, for the register of wills post held by Republican Kay K. Hartleb since 1986, has no Democratic opposition.

And until Tuesday, Cave was running solo. He could not be reached yesterday for comment.

"It was something I was considering, but of course, I wanted to see if anyone else wanted to do it," said Armanas, a 58-year- old car salesman, Republican Central Committee member and former military policeman. He also serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Maryland Defense Force, an all-volunteer organization that supports the Maryland Army National Guard and aids in state and local agencies' emergency response.

"Nobody stepped to the plate, and they said, `Will you?' and I said, `Yes, I will,'" he explained.

Hartleb said she called the elections office several times on Tuesday to ask whether she had any opposition. When there was still no Democrat in the race by her last call at 4:55 p.m., she celebrated with her staff.

"It was a long wait, waiting those extra 15 days," she said yesterday. The parties had until Tuesday to nominate candidates for slots left open after the July 1 regular filing deadline. "After they put in the paper we were unopposed, I felt surely somebody would come forward and ask to be nominated by the central committee."

But Wendy Fiedler, the Democratic Party chairwoman, said she saw no purpose in appointing a token opponent.

"It's an administrative office. ... We failed to see the point in putting someone's name on there just to have a name," she said.

Among the five races, four feature incumbents seeking re-election. In addition to Cave and Hartleb, Clerk of the Circuit Court Margaret D. Rappaport and all three Orphans' Court judges - Republicans Charles M. Coles Jr. and Joyce Pope and Democrat Sherae M. McNeal - are running for office.

Rappaport is opposed by Democrat Leslie J. Cale, the court reporter for Circuit Court Judge James B. Dudley. The Orphans' Court judges face opposition from two people - Democrat Paul L. Bush and Republican Eva-Mae Lloyd - for three judgeships.

The only race without an incumbent- and the one likely to generate the most interest - is for Howard County state's attorney, an office held since 1994 by Republican Marna L. McLendon, who is not seeking a third term.

Democrat Timothy J. McCrone, an Ellicott City attorney and former Howard prosecutor who nearly unseated McLendon in 1998, will face Republican Robert R. Tousey, a private practice attorney in Baltimore who ran an unsuccessful campaign against 3rd District Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin in 1994.

Despite McCrone's near-win - he lost by 94 votes once absentee ballots were counted - Tousey said he thinks both he and McCrone will have to work hard for name recognition this year.

"While Tim ran four years ago and I had my run against Ben eight years ago, I don't think either one of us got so much name recognition that we would have an advantage," he said.

But McCrone believes he has a good base of support - and name recognition - given his near-upset four years ago. He said this race will be unlike 1998, focusing more on the candidates' background and law enforcement experience.

"I'm not running against Marna anymore or against her performance," he said. "It's a completely different approach."

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