Choices in Montgomery

Thursday, November 2, 2006

IT'S NO SEA change in the making, but Montgomery County's state legislative delegation will have a new look after Tuesday. The shifts are unlikely to swell the lean minority of Republicans, however, given the blueness of Maryland and the greenness of the GOP field of candidates. Here are our recommendations for the contested races:

DISTRICT 14: State Sen. Rona E. Kramer (D) proved productive in her first term and is well versed in local and statewide issues. She has been a leader on transportation and has pressed for sound economic development incentives. Also in their first terms, the three Democratic incumbents in the House -- Anne R. Kaiser , Karen S. Montgomery and Herman L. Taylor II -- teamed up smartly with a good mix of ideas.

DISTRICT 15: State Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D), a newcomer four years ago, caught on quickly. He was a leader in passage of the Healthy Air Act and efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. His openness to slot machines is no plus, but his Republican opponent, Bill Askinazi, would allow them as well. Mr. Askinazi is a moderate with good experience in economic development, but Mr. Garagiola's promise should not be denied. This district's bipartisan House delegation -- Republican Jean B. Cryor and Democrats Kathleen M. Dumais and Brian J. Feldman -- is sensible and informed. In particular, Ms. Cryor's independence, experience and ability to work effectively with all colleagues have earned her widespread respect.

DISTRICT 16: State Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D) is a leading light whose nearly 20 years of service have been exemplary. His savvy and ability to marshal votes have served the state well. For the House, two Democrats whom we endorsed enthusiastically in the primary -- William A. Bronrott and Susan C. Lee -- have drawn great attention to issues that need informed leadership. For example, Mr. Bronrott's unrelenting push for highway and pedestrian safety has toughened teenage driving laws and bolstered crackdowns on drunk drivers. For the third House seat, our recommendation is incumbent Marilyn R. Goldwater (D). We did not endorse Ms. Goldwater in the primary out of concern that her inability to serve actively over the past year had caused her to miss many important deliberations in Annapolis. But the inexperience and thin agendas of the Republican challengers -- and Ms. Goldwater's stepped-up pace since September -- argue for her return.

DISTRICT 17: The Democratic candidates for the House offer exceptional skills: Kumar P. Barve , the bright and effective House majority leader; Luiz R.S. Simmons , a knowledgeable, savvy veteran; and Jim Gilchrist , a student of state government who shows potential as an advocate for the district's concerns.

DISTRICT 18: This district is talent-rich. Richard S. Madeleno Jr. (D) impressed colleagues greatly during his first term in the House as a budget expert who does his homework. He is a natural to move to the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Sharon M. Grosfeld. For the House, Democrat Jane Lawton is a swiftly rising star, exceptionally well versed on the issues and a good bet to assume a House leadership role. Jeff Waldstreicher (D) is a promising newcomer with thoughtful proposals. For the third seat, we turn to Ana Sol Gutierrez (D), whom we did not endorse in the primary but who knows the ropes far better than any of the Republican candidates and is a special voice for the concerns of Hispanics around the state.

DISTRICT 19: Neither of the candidates seeking the seat being vacated by Sen. Leonard H. Teitelbaum (D) has served in the legislature, but both have good ideas. Republican Mike Ryman has reasoned views on tax equity, budget matters and transit. But Democrat Mike Lenett is the far stronger candidate. He dazzled primary voters with an energetic campaign, fresh ideas and an exuberance that Annapolis could use. For the House seats, Republicans John R. Joaquin and Tom Masser offer thoughtful views on transportation and budgetary policies, but they are no match for the Democratic team of incumbent Henry B. Heller , Benjamin F. Kramer and Roger Manno , whose varied areas of expertise should serve the district well.

DISTRICT 20: For the House, Democrats Sheila E. Hixson , Heather R. Mizeur and Tom Hucker make a first-rate legislative slate. Ms. Hixson is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Ms. Mizeur and Mr. Hucker are new candidates but old hands when it comes to knowing how the legislature works.

DISTRICT 39: Here the Democratic candidates for the House are clear standouts: Charles E. Barkley , chairman of the Montgomery House delegation; Nancy J. King , who has good ties to the leadership; and Saqib Ali , a bright newcomer.

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