Bissett takes GOP primary for Anne Arundel executive

Former state legislator faces incumbent Owens in the general election

Anne Arundel

Election 2002

September 11, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Phillip D. Bissett, a former Republican legislator whose family has lived in Edgewater for six generations, will challenge Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, a Democrat from Millersville, in the November general election. Bissett received about 64 percent, compared with Angelis, who received about 36 percent. The county Board of Elections reported 28,291 votes in all.

"We are going to be even more aggressive in the general election," Bissett said late last night, adding that he was excited about taking on Owens in debates leading up to the Nov. 5 election.

For her part, Owens said she eager to debate the issues, and to challenge Bissett on his voting record during his years in the General Assembly.

"I'm going to continue to campaign on my record and continue to move the county forward and work hard," said Owens, who attended a party at the Stoney Creek Democratic Club in Pasadena last night. Owens was unchallenged in the primary.

Angelis, who spent part of the evening with GOP friends at Kaufmann's Tavern in Gambrills, said last night that he would not concede the race until he had seen the final numbers.

So far, he has declined to endorse Bissett.

"I will do what's best for the party, and I won't get into a qualification of that now," he said, and added that he would not back Owens.

The primary race between Bissett and Angelis was civil at first but disintegrated into a smear contest as the summer wore on. Bissett accused Angelis of being a "me-too" candidate who lacked originality. Angelis charged that Bissett offered to find him a lucrative job in state or county government if he would bow out of the race.

Angelis and Bissett also attacked Owens, 58, a former Orphans' Court judge and director of the county Department of Aging. They said she hasn't done enough to stem development, preserve farmland and open space, or improve student achievement.

The Owens camp has been quick to dismiss such charges. Campaign brochures plug Owens' preservation record -- more than 4,000 acres has been set aside in permanent development easements since 1998 -- as well as her efforts to hire more teachers and lower class size.

In other county races, Council members Bill D. Burlison, 71, a Democrat from Odenton, and Daniel E. Klosterman Jr., 57, a Democrat from Millersville, defeated primary challengers. Burlison will face Republican Michael Malone in District 4; Klosterman will square off against Republican C. Edward Middlebrooks, 47, a former County Council member and state senator, in District 2.

In the race to fill the District 7 seat being vacated by Council member John J. Klocko III, an attorney from Crofton who can't seek a third term because of term limits, William A. Rinehart, 64, of Harwood beat out Peter Perry, 60, of Harwood, and Patricia O'Brien Boarman, 68, of Edgewater in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, Crofton resident Edward R. Reilly, 52, defeated David Wayson, 59, a Friendship resident.

Ron Dillon Jr., a finance manager from Pasadena, upset Thomas Redmond, a property manager also from Pasadena, in the Republican primary race in District 2, an area that includes Marley Neck. Dillon will face Council member Shirley Murphy, a Pasadena Democrat who was unopposed in the primary.

In addition to Murphy, council members Pamela G. Beidle, a Democrat from Linthicum, Cathleen M. Vitale, a Republican from Severna Park, and Barbara D. Samorajczyk, a Democrat from Annapolis, advanced to the general election. Beidle faces Republican Bob Gouge of Linthicum; Vitale runs against Democrat George Maloney, a Severna Park construction business owner. Samorajczyk is unopposed.

Also unopposed yesterday were State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, a Democrat; Circuit Court Clerk Robert P. Duckworth, a Republican; Register of Wills George M. Nutwell Jr., a Republican; and Sheriff George F. Johnson IV, a Democrat. Weathersbee faces Republican Michael W. Burns of Linthicum; Duckworth will run against Democrat Mike Serabian of Severn; and Johnson takes on Republican John Edward Moran IV. Nutwell is unopposed.

The months leading up to the primary race were subdued compared with years past. Four years ago County Executive John G. Gary was challenged by Council member Diane R. Evans, a Republican-turned-Democrat, and trounced by Owens in the general election -- largely because Owens and a majority of council members were unchallenged.

But Bissett, who served in the General Assembly from 1991 to 1998, didn't waste time.

He spent most of the summer finding fault with Owens and her administration, criticizing what he called her lack of management skills and unbalanced land preservation and development programs.

Bissett has criticized Owens for using county police officers as personal security guards and chauffeurs.

Bissett, who has a license to carry a concealed weapon, has said he would not need a bodyguard. Owens security detail has costs taxpayers about $500,000 during the nearly four years that she has been in office.

The Owens campaign, led by Owens' husband, Baltimore attorney David M. Sheehan, has called Bissett's attacks "misinformed."

Sun staff writers Gabriel Baird, Andrea Siegel and Julie Bykowicz contributed this article.

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