For Howard Democrats, a bit of a brouhaha



Del. Neil F. Quinter apparently never learned during his Harvard University Law School education one of the golden rules of childhood: No takebacks!

The Howard County Democrat has changed his mind about running for the congressional 3rd District and instead will seek re-election to the House of Delegates.

And he wants Howard County Council Chairman Guy Guzzone - who is running for what he thought was Quinter's vacant seat - to get out of his way.

Quinter is trying to convince Guzzone that seeking a "virtually guaranteed" re-election to the County Council is the best thing for the state - and Guzzone's family.

"Forcing a contested Democratic primary where he's trying to pick off one of three incumbents with good records seems to be inconsistent with the family consideration that led him to change his mind about the county executive [race] to begin with," Quinter said.

Guzzone is not a fan of Quinter playing Dr. Phil.

"I know what's best for my own family," Guzzone said. "It really is inconceivable to me that he would dare to think what's best for my family."

Guzzone is not backing down and said no party leaders have asked him to reconsider his campaign.

Wendy Fiedler, chairwoman of the Howard County Democratic Party, said the party is not pressuring Guzzone to step out of the race.

"I don't think [Quinter] can expect other people to change their plans because he changed his," she said.

Guzzone, a two-term county councilman, is quick to point out that he is not the one "forcing" the contested race.

After Quinter said he was intending to run for Congress, Guzzone - the presumptive Democratic candidate for Howard County executive - announced he would run for the House, seeking what he thought would be Quinter's vacated seat.

Guzzone said he opted to not run for county executive because of his 81-year old father's heart disease and because he needed to help both his parents and his own family.

"Before I announced what I was going to do, I called [Quinter] and told him what I was doing, and he did not mention one word. He gave absolutely no indication that he was pulling out of the congressional race," Guzzone said.

"He's creating this situation, and he's going to have to live with it."

Quinter announced Tuesday that he is bowing out of the congressional race to fill the post being vacated by Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is running for the Senate. He explained one reason he decided not to seek the seat is because John P. Sarbanes, eldest son of Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, entered the race.

Quinter was the research director for Senator Sarbanes and has known his son for 20 years.

He is leaving a packed race that includes former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, Anne Arundel County Councilman Bill D. Burlison and state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger.

Quinter reasoned that Guzzone returning to the County Council would "provide stability" to the body, and his returning to the House would be more effective for the public because he would have seniority.

"Everybody knows that Howard County is a swing county," he said. "I don't think it's good for Democrats to be spending all their time and energy trying to beat each other."

But Quinter is running without the support of his fellow district Democratic delegates.

Guzzone and Dels. Shane E. Pendergrass and Frank S. Turner proclaimed at a fundraiser Wednesday night they were running as a Democratic ticket in House District 13, sporting red baseball caps embroidered with their last names.

Pendergrass, who suggested that Guzzone run for Quinter's seat, called the Democratic primary situation "awkward."

"I'm happy to have Guy on the ticket," she said. "And I'm certainly not going to change my word on that."

And Guzzone is not about to let Quinter put his name on those red baseball caps.

"It's the Guzzone, Pendergrass, Turner ticket," he said. "We got our little embroidered hats."

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