Howard Democrats earn endorsements of police, fire unions

Republicans Kittleman, Merdon get recognition of law enforcement group

August 01, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Howard County Democrats have captured nearly all the political endorsements from county police, fire and regional AFL-CIO unions.

Incumbent County Executive James N. Robey, County Councilman Guy J. Guzzone, and west Columbia County Council candidate Kenneth S. Ulman were endorsed by all three groups.

Democrat Calvin B. Ball III won the nod from county firefighters for his east Columbia County Council race, while Howard's police union chose a rival -- David A. Rakes.

Republican County Council members Allan H. Kittleman, from the western county, and Christopher J. Merdon of Ellicott City were endorsed by the Howard County Police Officers Association, Local 86, but the firefighters and the AFL-CIO did not make endorsements in those two districts.

The police and Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions also endorsed General Assembly candidates, including state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, state Senate candidate C. Vernon Gray, Dels. Frank S. Turner, Shane Pendergrass and James E. Malone Jr., and House of Delegates candidate Steven J. DeBoy Sr. -- all Democrats. Both also endorsed Democrat state's attorney candidate Timothy J. McCrone.

The AFL-CIO also chose Democrat House of Delegates candidate Ada Bohorfoush.

Michael B. Rund, president of the Howard County Professional Firefighters Association, Local 2000, said, "We like both Allan and Chris. We're definitely happy with both those guys," but the group did not choose them -- nor anyone else in their districts. Rund said his group might reconsider later in the summer.

James. F. Fitzgerald, the police union president, said "Kittleman and Merdon are good police supporters. I'm bipartisan. These guys have a proven track record."

The police plan to publicly announce their selections late today at a news conference on Main Street in Ellicott City.

Republican County Executive candidate Steven H. Adler said the unions never contacted him.

"I'm not surprised, not disappointed. I'm pretty confident. I think there's a lot of independent thinkers out there."

Louis M. Pope, Republican Party chairman, said, "It's disappointing that they [unions] seem to have a continual bias against Republicans based on the fact that they are Republicans."

Pope said the firefighters simply could not bring themselves to endorse a Republican. "They don't seem to be willing to endorse a candidate based on individual merits," he said.

Rund said, "Tell the Republicans to start supporting our issues, and we'll go Republican."

Sometimes, however, endorsements are based on slightly less lofty considerations.

Kittleman and Merdon are incumbents who most observers favor to win re-election -- something that did not escape Fitzgerald's notice.

Ball served as a county firefighter for eight months, so he had ties to that union, though he was also endorsed by the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions.

"I worked with them," Ball, said of the firefighters. "It makes me feel good," he said, referring to the endorsements he received.

Rakes, one of Ball's three primary opponents, received the police endorsement and previously was endorsed by county teachers, though Ball was the Columbia Democratic Club's choice. "You have to look at the reasoning behind endorsements," he said, referring to Ball's past as a firefighter. "People in this community know what I'm about and what I've done," he said.

Bohorfoush, a novice candidate seeking a District 13 delegate's seat, said she belongs to an AFL-CIO union -- the American Guild of Appraisers, which is part of the Office and Professional Employees International Union. "It's a real boost," she said, about the endorsement's effect in her five-way Democratic primary. Neil F. Quinter, a rival candidate, was endorsed by county teachers.

Ulman was particularly happy with his clean sweep.

"I think it demonstrates that public servants and working families in Howard County recognize how hard I will work. I am honored." Ulman is county coordinator for the Kathleen Kennedy Townsend gubernatorial campaign, and his extended family is active in county affairs.

Mary Kay Sigaty, his primary election opponent, said, "I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference. The community support that I have is fairly extensive."

As Merdon noted, "I didn't get any of the endorsements last time, and I still won by a large amount."

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