The widow of Rep. Goodloe E. Byron (D.-Md.) told acting Gov. Blair Lee III yesterday that she is prepared to seek election to Congress next month if the Democratic State Central Committee asks her to succeed her husband.
Beverly Barton Butcher Bryon, 45, made the decision after a family meeting with her three children at their home in Frederick yesterday afternoon. The 224-member state central committee was scheduled to consider the appointment at a meeting her last night.
Byron, a 49-year-old veteran of six runnings of the Boston Marathon, died Wednesday night while running with an aide along the Chesapeake & Chio Canal. He was described by President Carter yesterday as "unusually close to the people of his district; he was never too busy to act as their friend and advocate in their dealings with the federal government."
With Byron's death, for the moment the only certified candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat in Western Maryland was Melvin Perkins, who was unopposed for the Republican nomination in last month's primary.
Perkins, 55, got on the ballot as a pauper, thereby avoiding the $290 filing fee. A perennial office seeker who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in the 1974 U.S. Senate race, Perkins was jailed for a week awaiting trial on a charge of beating up a female Baltimore bus driver, but was released Tuesday after being found guilty and paying a fine.
Although GOP leaders in the district that Byron had represented for four terms called for supporting Mrs. Byron, Perkins, his belongings in a worn paper bag, got on a train in Baltimore and set off to Washington "to claim my seat."
Dan Rupli, who defeated by Byron for the second straight time in the Democratic primary last month, acknowledged that "I have devoted the last four years of my life" to seeking the now-vacant Democratic nomination. But the 35-year-old Burkittsville attorney said he would not actively seek it now, although he would accept if it were offered.
Lee, who visited the Byron home before Mrs. Byron announced her decision, told several central committee members: "I would suggest to you that Mrs. Byron be given consideration. She is more than just a spouse. More than just a widow. She has been a full-time partner."
State Sen. Roy N. States, whose tenure as Democratic state chairman ended at last night's meeting, said "If I had the final say, I would offer the post to her. She's highly qualified."
State Sen. Rosalie M. Abrams, who was to succeed Staten, said she would prefer for the decision to be delayed until after the funeral, set for Saturday.
Mrs. Byron issued a formal statement saying she will seek her husband's seat because "it is important that a successor be chosen who will reflect his concern for the people of the 6th District. Throughout the political career of Goodloe Byron, the campaign effort has been a family effort."
The congressman's two sons, Goodloe Jr., 24, and Kimball, 23, learned of their father's death on a car radio while driving to the family's vacation home in Florida early yesterday. Their daughter, Mary, 13, was at home with her mother.
Bryon's wife's decision to seek his seat parallels an action by Byron's mother, Katharine, who filled the unexpired second House term of her husband, William D. Byron, after he was killed in an airplane crash in 1941. Katharine Byron died two years ago.
Services for Rep. Byron will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Frederick, with burial in Antietnam National Cemetery.
Yesterday, at the rundown and soon-to-be vacated Armistead hotel in downtown Baltimore, where perkins has lived periodically over the last 10 years, the GOP nominee told a flock of newsmen and his friends who live there that his election would reverse the trend in Congress.
"The way it's been," Perkins said, "all the politicians get elected and then go to jail. I've been to jail and now I'm gonna get elected."
Perkins got back to the hotel about 2:45 a.m. yesterday, according to the manager, Norman Meyers, after a 10 days absence that included the week long confinement to the Baltimore County Jail.
The 56-year-old unemployed pauper politician appeared in District Court in Towson on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and battery. He had been arrested a few minutes after midnight on Oct. 4 and charged with beating up a 27-year-old female bus driver in Baltimore County.
For most of the residents of the 61-room Armistead - which inspired the Broadway show and television series "Hot L Baltimore," and more recently was the locale for shooting the movie "Don't Call Me Boy" - the possibility of fellow tenaut Perkins going to Washington was of less importance that where they would be going when the place shuts down at the end of the mouth.
Most of the 50 or so regular tenans who, like Perkins, pay $120 a month, for a room without bath, are acurrying about looking for a new place.
The 75-year-old red brick hotel is now owned by a credit union which plans either to tear it down or convert it to office use.
Typical of its latter-day tenants is Thomas A. Morris, 51, who, along with his wife, faces eviction Nov. 2.
Sitting at the hotel's bar. Morris remarked "Perkins said I could be an aide and my wife could be a secretary in Congress."
Then he smiled and said, "I'm going to Congress all right. The Congress Hotel at 306 W. Franklin St!"
Outside thb bar, Perkins, his heavy black coat and wrinkled shirt tail flapping in the breeze, waved to his friends at the Armistead and announced, "I'm going to Washington to be sworn in."