Political unknown Glass a surprise winner in GOP primary for House. No-frills campaign wins spot in election

October 01, 2006|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,SUN REPORTER

Glen Glass got off to an ominous start in his campaign for House of Delegates.

The first time he went out to tack his political signs at the side of county roadways, he cut his hand. While going door to door, he was bitten by a schnauzer as he handed a flier to a resident. And for some reason, drivers kept pulling over on U.S. 40 as he waved to people while standing near his beat-up blue pickup.

"They were stopping to help me. They thought I had broken down," said Glass, 39.

Though Glass campaigned in earnest, Republican party leaders weren't sure who he was and found him elusive - they couldn't even get him on the phone. But on primary election night, Glass emerged as one of the party's two nominees for House District 34A, representing southern Harford and part of Cecil County.

A mild-mannered salesman with a scarlet tuft of hair, Glass credited the victory to hard work.

"We ran like a rabbit," Glass said.

"No one expected us to win. All I wanted to do was try."

Count opponent Christopher W. Pate among those who didn't expect a Glass victory. Pate, along with Del. Sheryl Davis Kohl, was part of a leadership slate formed by state Sen. Nancy Jacobs with the aim of taking both district seats in the House.

Pate, a Baltimore attorney with Venable LLP, raised $32,125 but spent just $3,145 on campaign materials and fundraising expenses, choosing to save the balance for the general election.

Glass raised $210. He won by 66 votes.

"We had a budget in place and most of that was going to be used for the general - where we figured most of the action was going to be," said Pate, 32, who said he still has no idea who Glass is. "It certainly shows politics are unpredictable."

Though Glass said he went door to door and spent considerable time sign-waving, he did not participate in candidates forums or respond to questionnaires seeking his stance on issues.

Glass' lone communication of his platform came in the form of a plain letter to district residents, which his wife typed up on a computer at a local FedEx Kinko's store. The no-frills memo gave voters his basic stances on crime and taxes and asked for their vote.

He printed up 1,000 copies and sent them out the next day. "Sometimes, something different works in your favor," he said.

With a primary victory in hand, Glass has become more visible, attending a Republican Central Committee meeting and planning to speak at forums and debates.

Glass was born in Prince George's County. He and his wife moved to Edgewood, her hometown, nine years ago. His background is varied - he spent two years as a field artillery officer in the Army to help pay for college and graduated with a degree in history from the University of Baltimore. He also has a management degree from Howard Community College.

He said he spent one year teaching in the Baltimore school system. That experience exposed him to the real challenges facing the system, he said. But he wouldn't take sides in the debate over who should control the city schools.

"It's supposed to be about the kids, not politics," he said. "The schools aren't getting better. I believe in school vouchers and charter schools. The parents should have a choice."

In 2002, Glass filed to run for House of Delegates as an independent. But he failed to garner enough signatures to place him on the ballot. He said he didn't understand the system then and is still learning. This year, he signed up as a Republican.

"After thinking about it, I decided I fit more into the Republican Party," he said. "But I don't like the back and forth between the two parties. I just want to get something done."

Glass, who drives the church bus at Edgewood Assembly of God, said a victory in the general election Nov. 7 would be "a miracle." His opponents - Kohl and Democratic Dels. Mary-Dulany James and B. Daniel Riley - have all served in the House of Delegates, and the district is predominantly made up of registered Democrats.

"I'm just gonna keep working hard," he said.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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