Angelis says GOP rival urged him to quit race

Executive candidate alleges offer by Bissett

August 14, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Tom Angelis, a Republican candidate for Anne Arundel county executive, accused his rival, Phillip D. Bissett, yesterday of trying to get him to drop out of the Sept. 10 primary in exchange for help in landing a post in the administration of gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

"This is an ethical, moral and character issue," Angelis said yesterday during a news conference at which he unveiled a portion of his campaign platform.

Bissett said he never promised Angelis, a Davidsonville resident who teaches high school in Baltimore, a job with Ehrlich, who will likely face Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the general election.

"I have never spoken, nor will I ever speak, for Bobby Ehrlich," Bissett, a Mayo resident and former state legislator said yesterday.

Bissett said he had spoken with Angelis, but only to encourage him to talk to his advisers, who Bissett said have been trying to persuade Angelis to quit.

"There was this rumor that folks were trying to talk him out of the race because his campaign had no momentum and no resources," Bissett said. "I suggested that he go and talk to those people who advise him and listen to what they have to say."

A spokesman for Ehrlich said the issue had never come up and that "no one in or outside of this campaign has the authority to speak for Bob after Nov. 5."

According to Angelis, Bissett made the offer Thursday. At the time, Angelis said he was waving a campaign sign along Route 2 near St. Andrew's United Methodist Church when Bissett, who was in his truck, pulled up next to him.

"He told me that I was going to lose the election and that I needed to figure out a way to get out gracefully," said Angelis. "He inferred that he would help me get out and help me get a job in the Ehrlich administration."

He said he told Bissett he would think about it.

The two men spoke again Monday, when they appeared at a candidates forum at a public library in Maryland City. As the function was wrapping up, Angelis said Bissett asked him if he had made up his mind. Angelis said he told Bissett he was staying in the race.

Angelis said Bissett called him a "fool" and told him that he would "never get a job in the Ehrlich administration or in my administration," implying that he, Bissett, would defeat Owens in the fall.

"Phil told me, `You will be a teacher then for the rest of your life," Angelis said.

Angelis also said that Bissett said he was "coming to get" him.

Bissett said yesterday that what he meant by that comment was that he was going to run an aggressive campaign.

"I told him I was coming after his campaign," said Bissett, who blamed Angelis for trying to stir up controversy to gain publicity. "Tom is a desperate candidate, in a desperate race, saying desperate things."

At his news conference yesterday, Angelis also discussed ideas he has to improve county government. If elected, he said he could transfer existing positions to the departments of Aging and Health to beef up community services.

Angelis said he would require county department heads to take turns working weekends so that someone would be on duty every weekend.

Angelis also promised to re-evaluate fees for county-run services such as parks and senior centers because, he said, some of them are too expensive.

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