Numbers don't add up for Democrat

In 9th District, Corkran faces GOP's well-funded Kittleman

State Senate

October 29, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson and Laura McCandlish | Tyrone Richardson and Laura McCandlish,sun reporters

Democrat Rich Corkran hopes his idealism and energy will put him in the Maryland State Senate, but the numbers in South Carroll's District 9 could tell another story.

Just over half of the registered Carroll County voters in District 9 are Republicans; about one-third are Democrats. Republicans also outnumber Democrats on the Howard County side of the state Senate district.

"I'm optimistic, otherwise I would have dropped out," said Corkran, a 59-year-old high school teacher from Ellicott City.

Howard County Democratic leadership believes the historically Republican district has changed its demographics, helped in large part by one of its biggest issues -- growth.

"As we are seeing, the demographics are changing, and while it is still largely Republican, you are getting a lot of people there who are of a different persuasion. ... They are coming in, and they are not wearing an `R'," said Howard County Democratic Party Chairman Michael McPherson, who also is counting on the increasing number of independent voters.

In a district where growth, transportation and schools are seen as key issues among candidates, Corkran is running against incumbent state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman.

An attorney, Kittleman is married with four children and a resident of West Friendship. He was unopposed in September's primary and appointed to the Senate in October 2004 to fill the vacancy of his late father, Robert Kittleman. Kittleman previously served six years on the Howard County Council.

Kittleman believes his understanding of Howard County issues, political experience and the nurturing by his father makes him the ideal candidate.

While South Carroll Del. Susan W. Krebs said she enjoyed a good working relationship with Robert Kittleman, Allan Kittleman turned against her in the primary.

"It was very disappointing to me," Krebs said. "I do a lot of work here to sort of hold the fort down in Carroll County. He hasn't really participated a lot. But his father and I worked together beautifully."

On his campaign Web site, Kittleman backed Krebs' GOP opponent, Larry Helminiak, who lost to Krebs in the primary. Helminiak had given a fundraiser for Kittleman, Krebs said.

"It all goes back to the money," she said.

Kittleman also opposed a redistricting map that would have created two commissioner districts in populous South Carroll. Krebs vigorously supported that map, but her colleagues in the delegation unsuccessfully pushed a map with one district for the region.

The bill from which to elect five county commissioners by district never passed in the General Assembly earlier this year.

"It was a no-brainer for South Carroll for vote for Option 2," Krebs said of the map she supported. Still, if she and Kittleman are re-elected, Krebs said she would work to build communication with him.

Corkran, married with two children, is a newcomer to the political arena. He decided to make a run for state Senate because he said Kittleman was not representing all of District 9.

"He's still with the [Howard County Council] District 5 and he thinks that's it, but it's more than that in the district," Corkran said.

Kittleman defended his tenure as a state legislator. "I have responded to my constituents wherever they live," he said. "There are always a few people upset, no matter what you do."

Kittleman said he would like to continue tackling issues of school funding, growth and transportation.

"Looking at Route 32, we need to make improvements on that. ... We need to focus on transportation and making our state roads improved for safety and congestion," he said.

Kittleman said he supported legislation that fought against eminent domain tussles, backed by his fellow Republicans in the district.

"Government should not take private property and give to another private entity for better economic development. I was a Republican leader in the Senate on that issue," Kittleman said.

Kittleman recently took a charitable stance that has dubbed him as a political Santa Claus -- releasing more than half of his $95,000 campaign purse to fund other Republican candidates.

"I believed I should help the candidates that are doing a good job," Kittleman said.

Corkran, who admits his campaign funding does not compare to that of his opponent, has praised himself as "the lightly funded novice" who wants to give voters an option on Election Day.

"In a democracy, there should always be a choice," he said.

Corkran said as a state senator he would tackle funding for older schools, lower the cost of higher education and bring fiscal responsibility to Annapolis.

Kittleman failed to join Corkran at a recent South Carroll forum sponsored by Eldersburg's Freedom Area Citizens Council. Howard County's annual meeting with state transportation officials prevented him from attending, Kittleman said.

Among Carroll County's three incumbent GOP state senators, Kittleman is the only one to face a Democratic challenger in the general election.

Both Sen. Larry E. Haines, the leader of Carroll's all-Republican delegation to Annapolis, and Sen. David R. Brinkley, who represents Northwest Carroll, defeated their Republican challengers in the primary.

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