Challengers focus on incumbent in the 8th

2 GOP

Maryland Votes 2006

September 02, 2006|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,sun reporter

Not only do Republicans Cal Clemons and Craig Borne have nothing negative to say about one another, as they compete in the primary election for a state Senate seat representing the Perry Hall and Parkville areas. They say virtually nothing about each other at all.

Instead, they seem to be focusing their campaign speeches and brochures on incumbent Democrat Katherine A. Klausmeier.

"Are you aware of how your current senator voted on these issues?" Borne, who is blind, asks a voter during a recent evening of knocking on doors. He points to a list of topics, including building new schools, lowering taxes, and abolishing parole for sex offenders.

And Borne, a 33-year-old attorney, isn't just stopping at the homes of Republicans on this August night. He has started to introduce himself to registered Democrats too.

Clemons, a 63-year-old White Marsh businessman, is also focusing his talks at voters' doors on how he differs from Klausmeier, who is running for a second term as state senator.

"I don't have all the answers," Clemons said in an interview. "But I think more of a business approach might help."

He said he was particularly upset that lawmakers were caught off guard by the BGE utility increase and that they decided to defer most of the increase.

"In the business world, that never would have happened," he said. "In the end, the voters lose. They don't have the right to opt out."

Clemons called legislation that would require Wal-Mart to cover more of its employees' health care costs "anti-business." He said the law would not encourage businesses to improve benefits but rather would discourage them from locating in Maryland.

The bill, vetoed by the governor, was struck down by a federal judge, but that ruling is being appealed.

Clemons and Borne, a former county schoolteacher, also are talking about education in their campaigns.

But Borne's criticism of Klausmeier is more blunt. "Over the past four years, I think she's gone in the wrong direction," he said in an interview.

He said she's become a "rubber stamp" for state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Borne said he was also disappointed that Klausmeier had voted to allow illegal immigrants to serve on juries and obtain driver's licenses, and he criticized her handling of the utility deregulation.

Klausmeier, who also served two terms as a state delegate, did some polling in the summer that included questions about Borne. She says she's a bit surprised that he and Clemons have been so focused on her.

"I'd just prefer that they say what they'd do if elected, rather than just cut me down," she said.

Klausmeier voted for the Wal-Mart bill and to override Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto of it, and she says she's proud of her record in Annapolis, her support of schools and neighborhood anti-crime groups.

Although she is unopposed in the primary, Klausmeier said she has spent the summer knocking on voters' doors. "As crazy as it might sound, I enjoy it," said Klausmeier, 56, of Perry Hall. "I enjoy talking with people about what matters to them."

Borne, an attorney for the state Department of Transportation, lives in Nottingham with his wife and two children.

In interviews and on the campaign trail, Borne makes light of his loss of sight at the age of 21. "I'd be the only senator allowed to carry a stick in Annapolis, which may come in handy," he said.

Borne had about $60,000 cash on hand, with $31,000 in contributions to his campaign, according to state fundraising reports filed in mid-August. Ehrlich's picture is featured prominently in Borne's campaign pieces and a spokeswoman for the governor's campaign called Borne "a friend to the administration."

Clemons, an Overlea native, had his first fundraiser this week. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the state House of Delegates in 1994.

Clemons' company handles the business affairs, such as accounting and media, for associations. He lives in Perry Hall with his wife and has three grown daughters and three grandchildren.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the 8th District, which also includes Carney, Overlea and most of White Marsh and Rosedale. But the area, which is represented by two Republican state delegates, overwhelmingly voted for Ehrlich four years ago.

Incumbent Dels. John W. E. Cluster Jr., a 52-year-old retired county police sergeant, and Joseph C. Boteler III, a 57-year-old Parkville printing company owner, have formed a ticket with Melissa Redmer Mullahey, a 29-year-old account executive for a marketing firm from Perry Hall. Her father, Alfred W.Redmer Jr., is a former delegate and state insurance commissioner.

Also running in the Republican primary for the House of Delegates is Anthony R. Davis.

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