There are two-thirds as many Republicans as Democrats in the new 42nd Legislative District, but for the Maryland GOP, those look like pretty good odds.
Ten Republicans are running in the Sept. 10 primary in the Towson-area district, confident that more people there vote Republican than register that way.
With the strong popularity in greater Towson of Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the likely Republican nominee for governor, and Douglas B. Riley, the party's candidate for county executive, Republicans believe they can win two, if not all three, of the delegate seats there. The top three vote-getters in each party will run in the general election.
"The registration numbers don't indicate how they really vote," said Del. Martha S. Klima, a Republican running for state Senate in the district.
Susan L. M. Aumann, 42, an accountant from Timonium, has worked in Ehrlich's campaigns since he first ran for the House of Delegates in 1986; she also worked in Ellen R. Sauerbrey's two gubernatorial bids. In this race, she and William J. Frank have formed a GOP ticket with Klima.
Like other candidates, Aumann said she is concerned about the projected 2004 state budget deficit, estimated to be as much as $1 billion. She said she opposes raising taxes, supports racetrack slot machines and would work to cut waste from the budget.
She also said she would like to improve education by fostering more interaction between boards of education and parents.
John J. Bishop, 54, was elected to the House of Delegates from the area in 1986 and 1990 and ran for county executive in 1998. The Rogers Forge businessman emphasizes his experience and says he has a record of working with Democrats to achieve Republican goals.
In his first year in the legislature, he said, he proposed forming a commission to conduct a top-to-bottom review of state government efficiency. In his eighth year, the initiative passed, though it was watered down by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Bishop said.
"The reality is, in a Democratic-majority state, you've got to work with the Democrats," he said.
Tony Campbell, 36, of Towson, is director of development for Baltimore Christian School. The only African-American in the race, he ran unsuccessfully for Baltimore City Council president in 1999.
He said that as a legislator he would work to ensure that government spending improves citizens' quality of life and to root out waste.
"I am going to be one of those people that will probably ask the wrong questions at the wrong time to embarrass people," he said.
Laura A. Downes, 41, of Timonium, is president of the North Central Republican Club and author of a conservative political newsletter. She said fiscal accountability is important to her and that she thinks taxes are too high. She supports slot machines at racetracks.
She believes prayer should be allowed in public schools; that recent federal campaign finance reform is an unconstitutional abridgment of free speech; and that the "gay agenda" should be kept out of public schools.
John C. Fiastro, 24, is the youngest candidate in the election. The Lutherville resident is a student and a waiter at Aldo's restaurant in Little Italy.
He said he's especially concerned with the burden taxes place on fixed-income seniors. "We shouldn't throw out our seniors like yesterday's dishwater," Fiastro said.
Frank ran for Congress in 1994 and lost to Ehrlich in the Republican primary. The 42-year-old from Lutherville is a development and marketing consultant and the chairman of Sen. Andrew P. Harris' election committee. He said he wants to make sure education dollars go to the classroom, to strengthen penalties for criminals and to reduce business regulation. He said government spending is out of hand.
Walter R. Hayes Jr., 47, is an attorney and real estate agent known to talk-radio listeners as "Walter from Parkville." He has been involved in a variety of business and community groups and the PTA.
He said he'd like to see programs encouraging homeownership, particularly in older communities; tougher penalties for criminals; and more fiscal responsibility. He also supports racetrack slot machines.
C. Rob Lee, 38, of Lutherville, is the receiving manager at the Owings Mills Home Depot store.
Lee believes in limiting the growth of the state budget to the inflation rate; increasing penalties for repeat criminals; supporting drug treatment, health care and mental health programs; giving parents more choice over where their children attend school; and allowing slot machines at racetracks.
Del. Emil B. Pielke, 60, is an attorney from Towson. Like many candidates, he criticizes Glendening for what he considers excessive spending, but unlike many, he provides specific examples.
Pielke, the only incumbent seeking re-election in the district, was appointed to the position a year ago.
He said he thinks the governor spent too much on capital projects, especially buildings for the state's university system. He also thinks the state's pension system could be revised to encourage more retirements and thus cut payroll without layoffs.
John G. Trueschler, 45, an attorney from Lutherville, said he would like to see the state's tax and regulatory structure made more inviting for business. He said the state should examine its budget and decide what it can do without.
And although the district no longer includes part of the city, Trueschler said he thinks it's important to support Baltimore.
"I would never abandon that place, and I think we need to do more," he said.