As Jimeno Retires, GOP Has Hopes For Senate Seat

Philip C. Jimeno has decided to retire from the Maryland Senate.
Philip C. Jimeno has decided to retire from the Maryland Senate. (By Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)
By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006

The contest for the state Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Philip C. Jimeno will be among the most closely watched in Maryland. And with the exit of prominent Anne Arundel Democrat Joan Cadden from the field Tuesday, the race could boil down to a battle between an affable school board member and one of the legislature's most conservative Republicans.

Jimeno announced this month he would retire from his longtime seat in the Maryland Senate representing working-class suburbs of Baltimore in northern Anne Arundel.

His district is trending Republican. Republican voter registration has grown by 22 percent since 2002, compared with a 5 percent gain in Democratic registration. There are 24,000 registered Republicans and 32,000 Democrats in a district that was once overwhelmingly Democratic, and GOP leaders believe many of the 10,000 unaffiliated voters are conservative.

"It's a different district than 10 years ago," said Audra Miller, spokeswoman for the Maryland Republican Party. "It's a different district than four years ago."

Republicans consider the seat one they can win, and one of five they would need in order to break the veto-proof majority now held by the Democrats, Miller said. Republicans hold 14 of 47 Senate seats.

Don Dwyer Jr., a Republican delegate from northern Anne Arundel, is the most prominent among five GOP candidates for Jimeno's seat, which represents Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie, Pasadena and part of Severna Park. His key issues -- opposition to same-sex marriage, illegal immigration and abortion -- resonate with many in the district.

"I am the most conservative member of the House and hope to soon be the most conservative member of the Senate," Dwyer said.

Dwyer, 48, said he would have loved duking it out with Cadden, a legislator with whom he disagrees on "lots of issues." But Cadden said Tuesday she would instead seek reelection to her House seat.

"I have a leadership position in the House," Cadden said, and keeping it "will be more beneficial to my constituents."

Attention will now shift to another potential Democratic candidate: Edward "Ned" Carey, a Baltimore airport official who sits on the county school board. Carey, 44, of Brooklyn Park was appointed in 2002 by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) to replace a board member who had died. He is an executive in the Maryland Aviation Administration and a PTA leader.

Carey has not announced his intentions. Eugene Peterson, a fellow Democrat and school board member, said Carey's civic roots and likeability would make him a good opponent in a race against Dwyer.

"I told him to take a strong look at it," Peterson said.

Dwyer said he's clearly the strongest Republican candidate after John Leopold's announcement that he will not seek the Senate seat. Leopold, a state delegate from Pasadena who has strong name recognition in northern Anne Arundel, is confident he can win the county executive job now held by Janet S. Owens (D).

Also running for the Senate seat are Republicans Bryan Simonaire, 42, a computer systems engineer and founder of Heroes at Home, a Web-based program that helps the needy; Casey Robison, 76, a retired union rep with Bethlehem Steel who lives in Glen Burnie; Mike Jacobs, 40, a Pasadena resident who manages his family's machine shop and boat lift business; and Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, 63, of Pasadena, a former County Council member.

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