Titman lost 2 primaries, but happily still running

Political notebook

September 17, 2006

Ellicott City lawyer David A. Titman came in last in the Republican and Democratic primaries for Howard County Circuit judge, but he is happy anyway.

As the Libertarian Party nominee, he was not eliminated as the third-place finisher competing for two judgeships, and he will be on the November ballot despite his double primary loss, vying with sitting Judges Louis A. Becker III and Richard S. Bernhardt for a 15-year term.

"I was 3 percent off my closest competitor," Titman said. "I think that's an amazing result. I think you can expect an entirely different result in November when the independent voters, who were completely disenfranchised, will vote."

In the two party primaries, Titman was 3 percent (1,037 votes) behind second-place Becker in the Democratic primary and 5 percent (798 votes) behind second-place Bernhardt in the GOP contest.

The results are proof, Titman said, that a candidate can run a countywide campaign with far less money - and without contributions from lawyers - while being competitive.

If either Becker or Bernhardt had done what Titman did - come in last in both party primaries - they would have been eliminated under the peculiar logistics of the primary.

Becker, a 16-year District Court judge before being appointed to the Circuit Court, said he and Bernhardt, a former public defender and assistant attorney general before being appointed, also are confident. Both were named to the court in August last year.

"We're feeling pretty good about it," Becker said of the twin primary victories by the sitting judges. "We're comfortable that our track records will help us be successful in the general election."

Titman said that to avoid the current situation, the General Assembly should have changed state law to let independents vote for judges or move the judgeship elections to the general election.

Central committee

Upheaval is the watchword for the leadership of Howard County's Republican Party, with party Chairman Brian Harlin and two other central committee incumbents losing committee re-election bids last week - including John D. Wafer, chosen Man of the Year for 2005 by the state party. Edward L. Patrick also lost his seat.

The new nine-member central committee has six women members to three men, the reverse of the current committee, but some Republicans said the changes are not about ideology, gender or anyone's political agenda.

"Everybody was looking at us [election night] asking, `What the hell happened?'" Harlin said. "I don't know."

Wafer had one explanation that other Republicans shared.

"I can tell you I did not aggressively campaign for it," he said. "I think it was just bad position on the ballot." However, Roger P. Winter, a candidate who Harlin said he does not know and who was lower than Wafer on the ballot, was elected. But Winter campaigned, sending a mailer to registered Republicans, several candidates said.

Wafer and Harlin said they were so busy working for Republican candidates that they never campaigned for their party posts, while others, such as Trent Kittleman, her daughter, Heather Mitchell, and Sandra N. Harriman, did.

"The people who won actively campaigned, and they deserved to win," Wafer said. "They worked hard and beat the bushes for voters."

Kittleman, executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority, widow of state Sen. Robert H. Kittleman and stepmother of state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, also won a spot, as did her Mitchell and Harriman, their ticket-mate.

"The Kittleman name in Howard County politics is gold," said Del. Warren E. Miller, a former Republican committee member. But the real key is campaigning, he said.

"We sent out over 3,000 postcards," Kittleman said, and had unusually shaped campaign signs bearing their pictures outside of many polling places.

"I really like the theory that when women go to the polls, they vote for other women," she said.

Harriman, director of corporate foundation relations at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, said she had been active in the party in the 1980s and decided to run now because her children are grown.

Joan Becker, another newcomer to the committee, scored the second-highest vote tally behind Kittleman, but her performance belied the wisdom that campaigning works.

"I didn't actively campaign," Becker said. "No literature. No signs. I do know a lot of people."

Harlin will remain party chairman until after the November election, and he and Wafer said they would remain active.

"I will continue to do the same work, said Wafer, who is chairman of the Ehrlich for Governor campaign in Howard County.

Cockran responds

Democratic state Senate candidate Rich Corkran took exception to the listing in last week's column of all the Republicans that his opponent, Senator Kittleman, gave money to over the past few months.

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