Veteran faces first-timer in Md. Senate race

Democrat Klausmeier targeted by GOP in effort to capture seats

Maryland Votes 2006

20 Days Until Nov. 7

October 18, 2006|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN REPORTER

As he campaigns for a seat in the state Senate representing the Perry Hall area, Craig Borne's message is straightforward enough.

The Republican candidate says he favors lower taxes, affordable health care, smaller class sizes in schools and abolishing parole for child sexual predators.

But as he approaches homes of voters in District 8, which also covers Parkville, Carney, Overlea and part of White Marsh, Borne sometimes gets confused looks.

He doesn't always look the right way when he's talking to someone. He sometimes doesn't notice when a door opens. He occasionally bumps into a pot of flowers. But as he tries to unseat two-term Democratic Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier, Borne rarely offers up the explanation: He's blind.

"It's not part of the campaign. If I did mention it, I imagine the reaction would be, `So what?'" says Borne, a 34-year-old attorney from Nottingham.

Klausmeier has a different kind of challenge this November: retaining a seat that the Republican Party has targeted for capture.

She was unopposed in the primary but faces a first-time candidate who is criticizing her voting record on such issues as illegal immigration, punishment for child sex offenders and the BGE rate increase. Borne also has as much cash on hand as Klausmeier does - about $73,000, according to state campaign finance reports.

"I'm just trying to run a positive campaign," says Klausmeier, a 56-year-old full-time legislator from Perry Hall who served two terms in the House of Delegates and is seeking a second term in the Senate. "My voting record speaks for itself."

As she walks door to door, though, Klausmeier hears more about missing street signs, traffic problems and candidates who call voters after hours than she does about health care or education.

"I'm going to make some noise about this," she tells one couple in Overlea who complain about needed road improvements.

In her mailings, designed by a political consulting firm in Washington, Klausmeier accentuates her votes to freeze college tuition and cut property taxes. She also emphasizes her desire to enact measures that would require background checks for anyone working with children, and prevent sex offenders from living near school bus routes.

Klausmeier also said she's proud of legislation that she sponsored that prevents retailers from imposing fees on gift cards not used immediately, and her votes to improve teachers' pensions and to require Wal-Mart to provide health insurance for its employees, even though the law was later deemed unconstitutional.

If re-elected, Klausmeier said, she would continue to work to fund a new high school and improvements to other schools.

In the next session, she said she'd like to sponsor legislation to extend health insurance to teenagers graduating from high school and no longer covered by parents' policies.

Borne, a former public school teacher who now works for the state transportation department, tells voters that Klausmeier isn't independent enough in Annapolis. "It takes more than citations to be a good senator," he said.

He criticizes her vote on the "Wal-Mart bill" and her handling of the BGE rate increase. Borne also denounces her vote on a bill that could allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses - a measure that Klausmeier points out was needed so the state would not lose more than $230 million in federal grants.

For the three seats in the House of Delegates representing the 8th District, incumbent Del. Eric M. Bromwell is seeking a second term, along with Democrats Ruth Baisden and Todd Schuler, winners in the 2002 primary who were defeated in the general election.

Bromwell, 29, a full-time legislator, says he would continue work on health care and also would like to pass legislation aimed at stopping the production of methamphetamine.

Baisden, 44, a Parkville community activist, says she would work to improve health care, nursing homes and schools.

Schuler, 29, a lawyer from Overlea, says he would work to improve the environment by halting sprawl.

On the Republican side, incumbent Del. Joseph C. Boteler III is running for re-election; Del. John Cluster Jr. is seeking election to the seat to which he was appointed in 2003; and Melissa Redmer Mullahey is making her first run for public office.

Mullahey, 29, is the daughter of Alfred W. Redmer Jr., who held the seat for 12 years. The marketing executive says improving schools and roads are among her top concerns.

Cluster, 52, a retired county police sergeant, said he would work to keep the Hickey School property as open space.

Boteler, 57, the owner of a printing company seeking a second term, said he's especially worried about governments' taking private property for "economic development."

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

8th District candidates

State Senate

Name: Katherine A. Klausmeier

Democrat

Age: 56

Address: Perry Hall

Education: Catholic High School in 1968, Essex Community College in 1971

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