Candidates look to the right for winning strategy

Amedori, Stocksdale stay conservative in 5A race

Face challenger Wack

GOP incumbents bristle at attacks on effectiveness

Carroll County

October 27, 2002|By Childs Walker and Mary Gail Hare | Childs Walker and Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carmen Amedori knows that her mouth makes her a target.

Quick with a barb, the Republican candidate for state delegate has during the past four years called her Democratic foes traitors, crooks, liars and conspirators. She has become the brashest symbol of Carroll County's gun-loving, abortion-hating, unapologetic conservatism.

And she loves it.

"Yeah, I'm a lightning rod and I'm outspoken," she said. "I'm sure the Democrats would like to get rid of somebody like me, who doesn't go to Annapolis for 90 days to socialize but to speak up for the principles of my constituents."

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Sunday's Carroll County edition of The Sun incorrectly described Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale's vote on Gov. Parris N. Glendening's budget during this year's General Assembly session. She voted against the bill. The Sun regrets the error.

Amedori, 46, and fellow Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale face a serious challenge in District 5A from Democrat Robert P. Wack, a Westminster pediatrician. Although Republicans make up about 50 percent of the district's registered voters compared with 38 percent for Democrats, even many conservatives say privately that the moderate Wack is mounting a strong campaign.

He and fellow Democrats say the county's delegation to Annapolis - Amedori especially - has wasted its time on hopeless ideological stands instead of passing bills that might help constituents. Wack often notes that Carroll is one of the state's fastest-growing counties but ranks in the middle of the pack in state dollars spent per resident.

Amedori and Stocksdale say it should be expected that the state would spend more money in poorer counties in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore than in relatively affluent Carroll. But they point to numerous facilities - including a new wing at the community college and new offices for the Maryland State Police and Motor Vehicle Administration - that have been built with state dollars during their terms.

But their responses haven't silenced critics.

"Good quotes. That's been their sole value not just to the legislature but to the people of Carroll County," said David Paulson, spokesman for the state Democratic Party. "It might be better if they'd go to work every day instead of playing the martyr. I think they play the martyr because they like playing the martyr, not because there's nothing else they can do."

Amedori shrugs off such comments.

"If they want to chastise me, because I don't go along with the way things are done in Annapolis, well, I guess I'm just a different kind of politician," she said in an interview Thursday.

The clash in Annapolis

Amedori said she never went to Annapolis to do anything but work. Elected to a first term four years ago, the Westminster resident said she entered the legislature with an idealistic outlook. She quickly became disillusioned, however, when she saw the majority party's power to orchestrate every step of the legislative process. She also developed a nearly immediate distaste for Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

"I went down there thinking I could do business with Parris Glendening, but then I got a call from a reporter asking what I thought about him taking away our police training center," she recalled. "I thought `Oh man, this is bad.' I think that showed me his perception of us, his animosity toward Carroll County for being conservative. And he never did open up."

The police center Amedori referred to was a $45 million state facility in Sykesville. The center is near completion, but at one point Glendening had declared it would not be built in Carroll. Carroll politicians called that one of his first acts of vindictiveness against a delegation that wouldn't follow his Smart Growth doctrine.

Amedori said she spent the rest of her term fighting for small victories and trying to broadcast the minority party's views on abortion and gun control. She cites as her proudest accomplishments a bill that would have required that gun safety be taught in public schools, ultimately vetoed by the governor, and a successful crusade she helped wage last year to get $5 million in funding for emergency medical services restored to the state budget. She has become a conservative spokeswoman on gun issues.

Critics say that's not enough.

"I challenge the citizens to find a single significant bill she's passed that will benefit Carroll County," said Thomas McCarron, chairman of the county's Democratic State Central Committee. "The constant excuse for doing nothing is Governor Glendening, but we've had conservatives who got things done in the past."

McCarron mentioned former Del. Raymond E. Beck Sr., now a judge, as a conservative who was a successful legislator.

Gun raffles

Outside of the legislature, Amedori made her biggest splash by advocating two gun raffles county Republicans held as fund-raisers. The raffles brought international attention to Carroll and caused several officials to leave the party.

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