Races take shape as deadline nears

Candidates for primary must file by tomorrow

Maryland Votes 2006

July 02, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

With one day left for candidates to file before Carroll County's primary election in September, two commissioner candidates have withdrawn from the race.

One of the two, Wayne R. Gadow, who has run the National Day of Prayer event in Westminster, is putting his support behind better-financed challengers with the hope of unseating the current commissioners.

"They're extremely liberal," Gadow said. "But it's always an uphill battle for a challenger."

As in past elections, three commissioners will be elected at-large this year, as mandated by a decision from the state's highest court. The Maryland Court of Appeals threw out the results of a 2004 referendum calling for five commissioners to be elected by district.

That ruling could work in favor of the current commissioners, who enjoy more name recognition than the other seven candidates who had filed in the race as of Friday.

"Anytime you have incumbents, they're difficult to beat," said Tony Roman, an adjunct political science professor at Carroll Community College. "Most people are satisfied with the job they've done."

Roman said he wouldn't be surprised if more candidates drop out before the primary on Sept. 12.

The seven members of Carroll's state legislators, who in the past have butted heads with the current commissioners, also are running for re-election.

Since the delegation failed to get Carroll's redistricting bill through the General Assembly this spring, they've faced more opposition from county residents, Roman said.

The commissioners traveled to Annapolis this spring to testify against tax-relief bills the delegation proposed. That signaled a disagreement between the parties, in a county where politicians have generally united to fight for their share of the state budget.

Challengers eyeing General Assembly seats hope to capitalize on current dissatisfaction with Carroll's state delegation over the failure of the redistricting bill.

With six Republican candidates competing for two delegate seats in District 5A, that primary could prove particularly contentious. The district includes Westminster, Hampstead and Manchester, extending from the Pennsylvania border to the Baltimore County line in Finksburg.

In 2002, three-term incumbent Nancy R. Stocksdale didn't have an opponent in the primary. Now, she and incumbent Tanya T. Shewell face three Hampstead residents who are well-known in the county: Hampstead Mayor Haven N. Shoemaker Jr.; C. Scott Stone, the Carroll school board's senior member; and Kevin R. Utz, a Westminster City Council member. William C. Niner of Hampstead is the sixth candidate for the delegate seats.

"I believe my views are more representative of the people of Carroll County than those of our current delegation," said Shoemaker, a former Democrat who is hosting several campaign forums with Stone and Michelle Jefferson, who is running against veteran state Sen. Larry E. Haines in the District 5 race.

Shoemaker, Stone and Jefferson aren't running as a formal slate yet, but at a North Carroll forum last week, they said they are "supporting each other."

Stocksdale said that she and Shewell share conservative, Christian values and will focus on a "positive" campaign.

"We have not attacked and don't plan to attack," she said.

Stocksdale countered claims that the current delegation lacks political clout. "I think I'm more realistic on what can be accomplished in a predominantly Democratic legislature," she said.

Since no Democrats had filed for commissioner as of Friday, the September primary could prove more decisive than the general election in November.

Just over half of Carroll's registered voters are Republicans; less than one-third are Democrats, according to May statistics from the county's Board of Elections.

Democrats controlled the county when Roman moved to Westminster in 1985.

"It's an ebb and flow," he said. "We'll probably see a change at some point, but I don't see that happening in the near future."

Candidates for the September primary must file with the Carroll County Board of Elections, at 224 N. Center St. in Westminster, by 9 p.m. tomorrow.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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