Haines to face primary contest

Ex-chair of Republican group files for state Senate seat held by four-term incumbent

May 14, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

Michelle Jefferson, a former chairwoman of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, has filed as a candidate for the 5th District state Senate seat held by four-term incumbent Sen. Larry E. Haines.

Though a passionate Republican - with a "Bush-Cheney" bumper sticker affixed to her car - Jefferson said she wants to oust Haines, who she says represents the right wing of her increasingly polarized party.

Haines, who represents parts of Carroll and Baltimore counties and leads Carroll's all-Republican state delegation, will face a challenger in the September primary for the first time since 1994.

"There's two different Republican parties in Carroll County," said Jefferson, who filed and formally launched her campaign Thursday. "We have our extremists, and the rest of us are more moderate. I think the differences between the two are becoming more and more apparent to a lot of the Republicans in the county, whether they are politically active or not."

Jefferson, a Westminster resident, recently differed with Haines on how to draw the commissioner districts for the November election, when the board increases from three to five members.

She testified at a House hearing and led a petition campaign to overturn the state delegation's choice of the Option 1 map, which would make one district out of populous South Carroll. Jefferson supports the Option 2 map recommended by the county's redistricting committee, which enjoyed the unanimous support of the commissioners and the mayors of all eight towns.

"The big thing that became very apparent during the commissioner redistricting issue was that Haines feels that he knows what's best, and that's all there is to it," Jefferson said. "It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks."

Given the General Assembly's failure to approve a map, Jefferson said she would support a referendum on code home rule, which would give commissioners more control over local issues, in this election. She refers to Haines as "Maryland's `Do Nothing' Senator" on her campaign literature.

Securing funding for school construction and roads tops Jefferson's priorities.

Commissioner Dean L. Minnich is endorsing Jefferson, describing her as "dedicated to public issues. She's candid and a straight-talker."

Given Haines' 16 years of experience, Jefferson expects to be outspent by her opponent in a tight race. Haines has filed financial statements but has yet to officially launch his re-election bid.

He said that he always "campaigns as if I have the strongest challenger ever and hope that it works out. If it doesn't, it just means God has other plans."

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Mary Gail Hare contributed to this article.

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