Choices in Montgomery

Sunday, September 10, 2006

RETIREMENTS and musical chairs in Annapolis could produce significant change in the talent of the Montgomery County delegation to the General Assembly. Here are our recommendations for the contested races. In many primaries, all candidates on the ballot will advance, and so we make no recommendations in those cases.

DISTRICT 14: The three Democratic House incumbents, Anne R. Kaiser, Karen S. Montgomery and Herman L. Taylor II , have used teamwork and issue expertise to bring the district important state funding.

DISTRICT 16: Of five Democratic candidates, we recommend two energetic and knowledgeable incumbents, William A. Bronrott and S usan C. Lee . For the third seat, now held by veteran Marilyn R. Goldwater, we endorse Regina "Reggie" Oldak . Over the years, Ms. Goldwater has served admirably, especially on health-care issues, but in the last year she was unable to engage in key legislative activities and in this campaign appears to have lost some of her longtime supporters. Ms. Oldak, an attorney familiar with the ways of Annapolis, would step in with her knowledge of health issues and sensible approach to tax restructuring and other financial matters.

DISTRICT 17: Democratic incumbents Kumar P. Barve and Luiz Simmons are top-flight legislators who know how to press for progressive programs. Mr. Barve is especially valuable as the deft House majority leader who has been chairman of the county delegation. For the third seat, vacated by the retirement of Michael R. Gordon (D), several candidates offer talent and good ideas. We give the edge to Democrat Ryan Spiegel , whose legal career has included work on civil liberties and whose grasp of financial challenges facing the state appears strong.

DISTRICT 18: The standout in this Democratic contest is incumbent Jane Lawton , who was named last year to replace Del. John A. Hurson after he resigned. She hit the ground running in Annapolis and quickly won great respect from colleagues and the leadership for doing her homework. She has earned an extraordinarily wide range of endorsements for her keen sense of what matters. For the other two seats, our choices are James Browning , who pressed for more open, less corrupting campaign finance practices when he was director of Common Cause Maryland, and Daniel E. Farrington , who offers sound business and financial expertise and a strong interest in health-care issues.

DISTRICT 19: The Democratic contest to replace retiring Sen. Leonard H. Teitelbaum (D) features two longtime incumbent delegates, Adrienne Mandel and Carol S. Petzold, and a hard-charging, energetic campaigner who has won a vast array of endorsements, Mike Lenett . We believe Mr. Lenett offers a breath of fresh air; he has good ideas and revels in engaged, high-octane campaigning. In the Republican Senate race, Mike Ryman is the better candidate. In the Democratic House primary, our choices are incumbent Henry B. Heller , smart newcomer Roger Manno and B enjamin F. Kramer , whose knowledge of workings in Annapolis would be a plus.

DISTRICT 20: The high-profile Democratic contest here is for the Senate. The political crossfire has been hot and heavy-handed between a 20-year incumbent with a rough-and-tumble, grating legislative style and a challenger who says it is time for a change. It is -- and we endorse Jamie Raskin to take the reins from Ida G. Ruben (D). Supporters of Ms. Ruben cite her record of bringing funding to the district, but over time her effectiveness has waned as she has used her bullying pulpit on too many occasions. Mr. Raskin has much to learn about the workings of Annapolis and would not enjoy immediate clout as a back-bencher. For the House, incumbent Sheila E. Hixson (D) should be returned. As chair of the Ways and Means Committee, she is a most important voice for this region, and that power ought not be lost. Incumbent Gareth E. Murray (D) has been a disappointment, failing to engage in important matters. Out of a number of solid challengers for his seat and one vacancy, we recommend Democrats Heather R. Mizeur , whose breadth of interests and ideas would be welcome, and Tom Hucker , former executive director of Progressive Maryland, who knows nearly everyone on the Annapolis legislative scene and has proven most effective in getting good bills enacted.

DISTRICT 39: Among the Democrats, we recommend incumbents Charles Barkley , respected chairman of the Montgomery House delegation, and Nancy J. King , a former school board member who has strong contacts with the leadership. Political newcomer Saqib Ali has shown good command of issues and would bring new vigor to this district's delegation.

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