State Sen. Victor L. Crawford, a member of the Maryland General Assembly since 1967, is expected to announce today that he will not seek reelection. Crawford and Del. Stewart Bainum Jr. will appear together at a press conference to announce that Crawford is withdrawing from the Democratic primary and will instead endorse Bainum. The two men were expected to stage a hotly contested battle for Crawford's 20th District seat from Montgomery County.
Crawford, who was on his way home to Rockville from Ocean City last night, could not be reached for comment, but his political allies in the county said he had been talking about dropping out of the race for several weeks.
"He's been concerned for a while about the money he's been losing in his law practice because of the time he spends in the legislature," said another state senator. "When he told me that he was going to hold a press conference with Stu Bainum, the message was clear."
Also influencing Crawford's decision, according to sources in the county, was a poll Bainum commissioned that showed Bainum not only had an edge on Crawford in name recognition but was leading the incumbent. Additionally, Bainum's personal wealth would have made it difficult for Crawford to overcome Bainum's lead in name identification.
Crawford, 50, was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1967 and was appointed to the Senate two years later. Three times he won election to the Senate and during this latest term was chairman of the county's Senate delegation. He ran twice for the U.S. Senate, once for the U.S. House of Representatives and sought an appointment as a U.S. attorney. Each effort to move up failed however.
At one point during the last session, Bainum, 36, a one-term delegate who also was unsuccessful last year in running for Congress, said he would be willing to spend $150,000 to unseat Crawford. Informed of that, Crawford said "tell him to give me the $150,000 and I'll drop out."
A source said Crawford called Bainum last week, "two days before he left on vacation, from out of the blue. He said he was not going to run again and offered his endorsement. Stu dropped his teeth on the floor."