Decatur Trotter, a Democrat and a member of the Maryland House from the 25th District, decided last summer that the people of the Glenarden, Seat Pleasant and Mount Rainier areas were fed up with the district's flamboyant state senator, Tommie Broadwater.
Trotter assembled a large campaign organization and an imposing amount of money and set out to defeat Broadwater in the Democratic primary. There was one issue in the ensuing political brawl: Broadwater, said Trotter, no longer suited the emerging middle-class of the predominately black district with his street-wise, super-cool manner, his background as a bail bondsman and tavern owner and his reputation as a politician more attuned to horse-trading than legislative action.
Trotter lost, badly. When it was all over, Broadwater had collected almost 65 percent of the primary vote, to Trotter's 35 percent.
End of round one. Enter Joseph Parker, the best organized and best financed Republican candidate in Prince George's County, according to Melissa Martin, head of the county's Republican central committee.Parker is backed by no less than the Republican National Committee, which, he says, had designated the 25th District Senate campaign as a "target race."
"The main issue," says Parker "is that the district's representation in the Senate is pitifully deficient. That man (Broadwater) embarrasses me, and he embarrasses the people he represents.
"He goes out talking that super-fly language. We don't need super-fly to represent us. He doesn't serve black folk except when it comes to patronage, and he never works on legislation."
Once again, the 25th District is dominated by the free-flowing invective and cash of its Senate campaign and, again, Tommie Broadwater is the issue.
For both parker and Broadwater, the central question is whether the voters will accept Parker's call for "new, responsible leadership," after 25th District Democrats overwhelmingly rejected a very similar appeal.
Parker, of course, thinks so.
Trotter decided to break with Broadwater and run against him at the eleventh-and-one-half hour," said Parker. "Then, he started saying the sort of things that I've been saying. People understood that for what it was worth.
"A lot of people voted for Broadwater because he was the incumbent but they still want a change. They wanted Broadwater to win so they could really see him go down to defeat in this election."
"Parker doesn't have anything to show for himself," responds Broadwater, "and I'm where the action is in the Senate. For Joe to go down there and talk proper is not going to work: You have to be able to negotiate."
"If Tommie doesn't beat Parker by more than he did Trotter, a lot of people are going to be very surprised," said Sylvania Woods Jr., Trotter's Democratic teammate in the House race, who, along with incumbents Nathanial Exner and Francis Santangelo, faces a milder challenge from Republican Lawrence Brooks.
Parker has an imposing campaign organization, especially for a Republican in a county where Democrats have a 3 to 1 registration advantage and Republcans have been shut out of the legislature for the last 28 years.
He has been endorsed by the county chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and the local Teamsters, and says he already has spent more than $8,00 more before the election.
Parker, 44, a school vice principal and county Human Relations Commission vice Chairman, hopes to dras support from senior citizens, middle-class blacks, and the district's white population with his moderate and polished image.
Broadwater, for his part, says he will spend as much as $10,000 over his assessment to the Prince George's Democratic state and plans to stage a gala, $50-a-couple fundraiser at his tavern, the Ebony Inn, next Monday to help raise the cash.
"It's going to be a first-calss fundraiser because we do everything in this district first-class," Broadwater said. "It's a first-class district; I'm first-class, and we don't ever do anything second-class."
Comapred to such glitter, the House race in the 25the District has been tedious. In fact, the three Democratic candidates seem to be more worried about getting together $1,000 due tomorrow for their county slate assessments than they are about Brooks.
But Brooks, a former Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission chairman and the first black to be appointed to the commission, could make a strong showing against the Democrats, although he, too, is strapped for funds.
Brooks, 60, a former mayor of Fairmount Heighs, is stressing his experience at various levels of government, particularly in contrast to Woods, who at 24, was elevated to the county House slate from the Glenarden council after Trotter moved to the Senate race. Incumbents Exner and Santangelo, Brooks admits, are less vulnerable.
But Woods, the son of District Court Judge Sylvania Woods Sr., says "The only difference in experience is the difference betweeen being 24 and being 60. I have worked in more government programs and accomplished more as a council member than Brooks has."
"He's going to beat me in Fairmount Heights," Woods said of Brooks, "but I'm going to do very weill in Glenarden. And if we run even everywhere else, then I should win."