Heart surgery doesn't slow Riley's return to campaign trail

Campaign notebook

August 13, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Four weeks after heart bypass surgery, B. Daniel Riley said he's ready to get back on the campaign trail.

Riley, who served in the House of Delegates from 1998 to 2002, found out during a regular checkup last month that one of his veins was heavily clogged and that he would need an aortic valve replaced. Now resting at home, he said he experiences shortness of breath but feels great.

"I've been following doctor's orders," he said.

Riley is competing against a crowded Democratic primary field in his bid to return to Annapolis.

He was the odd man out in 2002 when a redrawing of district lines reduced the seats representing southern Harford County and a strip of northern Cecil County, from three to two.

A former middle school teacher who features a folksy cartoon caricature of himself in campaign literature, Riley said he considered bowing out of the race.

But the response from friends and family to help keep his campaign going was inspiring, he said.

"My mind is sharp as ever, and matter of fact, my heart's better now, too," he said.

Wagner, Ehrlich shake

Hoping to clear up what he says are misperceptions, outgoing county councilman Lance C. Miller met with an aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich on behalf of Council President Robert S. Wagner.

Wagner and Ehrlich also spoke briefly at a homebuilder's crab feast Thursday at the Maryland Equestrian Center.

"We did something that should've been done long ago," said Miller, a Republican from Darlington who is supporting Wagner.

"They are two good, strong Republicans with ideals and ideologies, and there's nothing wrong with that. There's just been some miscommunication," Miller said.

Last month, Wagner was stung by claims that Ehrlich wanted him to lose the Republican primary. The 16-year council veteran hit back that Harford had received little state assistance under Ehrlich's term.

Miller said he met with Maryland Transportation Police Chief of Staff Bruce Carlin, a Harford resident and Ehrlich loyalist, to discuss Wagner's record as a conservative, particularly in keeping the budget and tax increases in check.

Wagner and Ehrlich later shook hands at a crab feast.

"Other people have tried to perpetuate a problem," Wagner said. "I think the air is clear."

However, challenger Aaron Kazi, a Republican from Jarrettsville who has been critical of Wagner, said the damage has been done. Kazi has claimed support from the State House, though Ehrlich's spokespeople said they are not endorsing a candidate in the primary.

"He's damaged goods with the Republican party," Kazi said. "Members of the Ehrlich administration are courteous and will sit and talk with him, but that does not translate into support."

The third candidate, Billy Boniface, has stayed out of the fracas. In a press release last week, Boniface said he has received a solid reception across the county to his "positive message."

Helton rejects pipeline

Ann C. Helton, the Democratic candidate for county executive, came out against the liquefied natural gas pipeline that would run through Harford County and into Pennsylvania.

In a press release sent out Thursday, Helton said the pipeline "threatens the overall health, safety and quality of life of county residents."

The release was sent after Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith held a press conference in Sparrows Point, decrying the plan.

Aaron N. Tomarchio, chief of staff to County Executive David R. Craig, said Craig long ago rejected the pipeline in letters to citizens and AES Corp., which wants to construct it.

"It's nice to know that Ann Helton is trying to play catch up to the county executive," Tomarchio said.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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