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In These Parts, Republicans Have Company

With a Shared Set of Values and Faith, They Counter Political Tide Around Them

By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 13, 2005; Page GZ16

Next Thursday, Earl Englehart and his 16-year-old son Chad will drive in from Frederick to see President Bush take his second oath of office in Washington, a proud moment for father and son, self-described conservatives and proud of it.

"We're a Republican county in a Democratic state," Earl Englehart, 47, said. "But we've got a strong conservative agenda, a vast difference of philosophical opinion from the rest of the state."

The Somerville family of Derwood plans to celebrate and pray on Inauguration Day. From left are Charity, 17, Mike, 22, Marjorie, 14, David, 19, Christy, 21, Scott and Marcia. At right are Republicans Bernie and William Albright of Adamstown. (Craig Herndon For The Washington Post)

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After Election Day, the region's liberals wondered who were the social conservatives who had turned out so heavily for Bush. In Maryland, they can be found in Frederick and upper Montgomery counties.

"We're regular concerned parents with traditional values, like marriage, going to church and not having the government meddling in every little thing they can get their hands on," Englehart said. "We're focused in a different direction."

In the presidential election, 56 percent of Marylanders voted for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), as did 66 percent of voters in Montgomery County. But in Frederick County, and the slice of upper Montgomery that belongs to the 6th Congressional District, 60 percent of voters went for Bush.

Among them was Bernie Topakyan Albright, 65, of Adamstown, who voted for Bush because, she said, "I can relate to his faith and religion because I personally feel the same way." As ancient peoples once believed about their kings, she said, "I believe the Lord puts them in and takes them out."

Albright comes from a long line of Republicans. Her grandfather H.H. Topakyan, an ethnic Armenian, served as Persia's ambassador to the United States in the early 1900s. Later, as an American citizen and owner of a New York carpet dealer, he gave a rug to Republican President William Howard Taft that hung for decades in the White House.

Albright and her husband, William, 73, a retired mortgage banker, moved from Silver Spring to Frederick County five years ago in search of a mountain view. They also found a point of view.

"I've always loved Maryland," she said. In Frederick, "I just don't pay any attention to politics; I just do my own thing."

She said people who view Frederick conservatives as behind the times are "totally wrong."

"They're very wise and intelligent people who don't have the same mentality as those who live in the city. They're honest and homespun . . . and when you have trouble, they rally to help you through it."

Over the holidays, Albright's basement, where her mother lives, flooded. The day before Christmas, a contractor fixed the problem so her mother wouldn't be uprooted.

"It all goes back to one thing," she said. "These people have morals."

Bernie and William Albright contacted the office of Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Md.) and requested tickets to Bush's inauguration. "My husband and I had the privilege of going to President Bush's father's inauguration," she said. "It's very historical to have a father and a son as president."

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