Shewell denies GOP rift

In Delegates races, Democrats try to gain from opponents' differences

Maryland Votes 2006

October 22, 2006|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,Sun Reporter

Tension between Carroll County's all-Republican delegation to Annapolis and the GOP commissioners first catalyzed over the issue of a transfer tax on home sales, Del. Tanya T. Shewell said recently from the GOP party headquarters in downtown Westminster.

The commissioners, who have unsuccessfully lobbied for the tax measure since 2002, then clashed with the delegation during the legislative session early this year over which map to implement to elect five commissioners by district.

In the House of Delegates races in Carroll this fall, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on this sometimes fractious relationship, describing themselves as the ideological equivalents of the moderate board of commissioners.

Shewell, 62, doesn't see things that way.

"The fact is that the party's split is a rumor and wishful thinking on the part of the Democratic Party," she said. "Even on a local level, I don't see the victory party."

The Democrats are particularly focused on winning at least one of the two seats occupied by Shewell and fellow GOP Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale in District 5A, which includes Westminster, North Carroll and Finksburg.

The Democratic challengers, Ann Darrin of Westminster and Frank Rammes of Finksburg, have less name recognition and less cash amassed than the incumbents.

Both Darrin and Rammes support bringing more local control to Carroll County through code home rule, which goes to referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot. Rammes, 57, said he favors charter government but will settle on home rule for now.

In a state where Democrats have dominated Annapolis for years, Rammes said the Carroll delegation needs a bipartisan perspective.

"It's harder to get things like school construction money if you aren't willing to work with people you don't agree with," said Rammes, a paralegal in the Office of the Public Defender for Carroll County.

"What happens if the manager of Team Ehrlich gets fired in a couple of weeks? Voters in Carroll County need to think about that," he said.

Shewell and Stocksdale, who both oppose code home rule, see it as a means of sneaking the transfer tax in through the back door. Under code home rule, the commissioners could implement a transfer tax of up to one-half percent on real estate sales.

Two General Assembly sessions ago, the delegation voted 4-to-3 against supporting the commissioners' effort to enact the tax. State Sen. David R. Brinkley and Dels. Susan W. Krebs and Donald B. Elliott supported the measure to pay for road repairs and school construction.

Krebs and Elliott frequently vote against the other five members of the delegation. During this year's session, they were the only two delegation members to support a map favored by the county's redistricting committee, the three commissioners and the mayors of Carroll's eight towns.

In South Carroll's District 9B, Krebs and her Democratic challenger, Anita L. Riley, see more eye to eye than the incumbents and their challengers in District 5A, said Martin A. Radinsky, chair of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee.

"They're both acting like true ladies in this campaign," Radinsky said. "No one is mud-slinging. No one is throwing stones."

While Riley, 66, supports Krebs' push for code home rule, she said she is more in touch with the concerns of working-class people than Krebs. Riley is the longtime secretary-treasurer for United Food and Commercial Workers - Local 27, a labor union in Baltimore.

"She's more financial and special interest groups, more working with the governor than the people," Riley, an Eldersburg resident for 10 years, said of Krebs.

Riley criticized Krebs, 46, for voting against working people, by rejecting bills to increase the minimum wage and force companies like Wal-Mart Inc. to spend more on employee health benefits in Maryland.

Krebs' votes there represent basic philosophical differences between the two parties, she said. "That's just a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats: whether we let the market forces determine things or let government do it," Riley said.

While she said she's not pro-union, Krebs is the only GOP General Assembly candidate whom the Maryland State Teachers Association endorsed in the county. Her years as president of the Carroll school board helped her earn that support, Krebs said.

The labor organization also endorsed Darrin, Rammes and Timothy Schlauch, a Westminster Democrat who is challenging Del. Elliott for his seat from District 4B.

All of the Republican House of Delegates candidates have much more campaign cash on hand than their Democratic counterparts.

Among the Democratic candidates, Riley has amassed the most money. Just before the September primary, she had about $5,500 compared with the $50,600 Krebs had in the bank, according to campaign finance reports.

On the political rifts within Carroll's Republican Party, Krebs questioned what makes a true conservative policy.

"I'm a big advocate for local control," she said. "In that regard, I think I'm a little more conservative than my colleagues in District 5."

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