Here is how the legislative races are shaping up in each of Montgomery's seven legislative districts:
District 14: Montgomery's portion of the 14th Legislative District, shared with neighboring Howard County, includes the Olney area of northeastern Montgomery currently represented by Del. Joel Chasnoff. He is being challenged by Dennis Lavallee, outgoing president of the Alliance for Democratic Reform.
Lavallee has started out with a vigorous campaign, blasting Chasnoff for skipping delegation and Judiciary committee meetings.
Chasnoff called the accusations "absolutely untrue" and noted that the Judiciary Committee often held voting sessions on bills at the same time that the county legislators met. "We had more bills than any other committee of the legislature," Chasnoff said.
District 15: In the affluent western end of the county, which includes Potomac and West Bethesda, incumbent Democrats Sen. Laurence Levitan, Del. Jerry Hyatt and Del. Judith Toth, all seeking reelection, have banded together as a team.
Toth originally threatened to be the single delegate holdout on the incumbents' slate, citing her concerns about the $1,000 filing fee and the "undemocratic" spirit behind slate-making. But in politics, pragmatism often outweighs principle, and Toth agreed to add her name to the slate after Levitan and Hyatt paid her $1,000 fee.
Levitan is facing an aggressive primary fight from businessman Anthony Puca, who is vigorously criss-crossing the district raising questions about Levitan's business interests and law clients. Party leaders expect the well-financed Levitan to survive, albeit somewhat bloodied.
With Toth and Hyatt considered safe, at least through the primary, the fight on the Democratic side is for the candidate to take on Republican maverick Robin Ficker for the third House seat. The incumbents have backed school administrator Gene W. Counihan, a former Central Committee member, over lawyer Ronald A. Karp and former federal analyst Daniel A. Borges.
On the GOP side, state party chairman Dr. Allen Levey, a dentist who lives in Potomac, suprised party regulars by filing for the state senate. Levey decided to run for the seat after Ficker decided to seek reelection to the House. Levey waited to file until the final hours of the July 6 deadline, hoping to avoid a primary challenge from the party's small conservative wing that sees Levey as too liberal. Even at 6 p.m., Levey filed too early. Within an hour, party activist David Bastion filed against him. "It's a stop-Levey movement," said one GOP moderate.
Ficker seems virtually assured of one of the three delegate slots. The Republicans have placed their biggest hopes for gaining a seat this year on Jean Roesser, a central committee member and former president of the Federation of Republican Women. Roesser is expected to be well-funded and most likely will target her campaign against Toth, who is seen as more vulnerable than Hyatt.
Four others have filed for the third slot: perennial candidate John C. Webb, newcomer Braden Keil, former state fundraiser Jean Cryor, and Republican James R. Sobers.
District 16: The area composed of Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase, stretching in a line up Wisconsin Avenue from the District of Columbia line, is the silk-stocking district in a silk-stocking county. The 16th has the highest number of Republican voters and last time elected the county's only Republican senator, Howard A. Denis, and Republican Del. Constance Morella. Both are seeking reelection.
Denis is running scared. He won by only 200 votes last time and redistricting has shifting the district's boundaries. Any Republican candidate begins at a disadvantage and Denis tried to recoup early by disassociating himself from his party's policy of laying off federal workers.
John J. (Jack) Sexton, a well-known Democratic activist-attorney, would like to be the Democrat to challenge Denis for a seat the majority party believes is rightfully theirs. Sexton first must survive a primary fight from young newcomer Brian E. Frosh.
The incumbent Democrats, Nancy Kopp and Marilyn Goldwater, are campaigning together, and they have rounded out their slate with Sexton and longtime party worker Stephen M. Nassau for the third House seat. The primary fight for the third slot is expected to be bitter. Party worker Gilbert J. Genn wants the seat. So does newcomer Abbe Lowell, an attorney in the Carter administration's Justice Department, who is running an aggressive, well-funded campaign with the support of many of his old White House collegues.
With his army of volunteer researchers, Lowell has begun issuing weekly issue position papers and draft bills. But to party regulars, Lowell is an ambitious outsider who has not paid his political dues in the county.
On the Republican side, GOP regulars consider Morella relatively safe in her seat, even given the county's 2-to-1 Democratic registration edge. John T. Perrin, who lost in 1978 by only 200 votes, is making a second try. He may be helped if Morella polls strongly, but he must face two Democratic incumbents who have the financial benefit of running on the statewide incumbents' slate. A third GOP House candidate, Gary England, is a newcomer facing powerful odds.
District 17: The incorporated city of Rockville, the county seat with its own mayor and City Council, long has provided a political springboard for ambitious politicians. Del. Luiz Simmons' decision to run for county executive leaves a vacant seat that the GOP would like to keep. Redistricting also has created an added uncertainty, with appointed incumbent Democratic Del. Mary Boergers facing an election in a district she did not previously represent.
Senator Frank Shore who represents the 17th District is an anomoly in county politics. His base of support lies where few county politicians reach -- in the network of veteran's associations, Elks clubs, blue-collar lodges, and some civic groups.
Republicans are convinced that Shore is out of the party mainstream and vulnerable and that the Democratic party will not come to his rescue. They are fielding who they consider one of their strongest GOP candidate in the county, former Rockville Council member Phyllis Fordham, who is in an unexpected primary fight with little-known Rockville lawyer William Skinner.
The most intense primary battle is shaping up for the third slot on the Democratic slate. That battle has been characterized by one contender, Robert Anthony Jacques, as "the night of the long knives."
Some party regulars and precinct workers initially wanted to endorse Rockville lawyer Peter R. Hartogensis to fill out their slate. They decided to remain neutral because of the possible outcry from three other candidates running for the seat.
One is former delegate Jacques, a party maverick and Rockville lawyer who lost his seat in 1978, and is making a comeback try. Jacques is being outspent, but is relying on a shoe-leather door-to-door campaign. Also running are newcomers Gloria C. Fernandez, a teacher, and lawyer Michael R. Gordon.
The Republicans have fielded a full slate of delegate candidates in the 17th, including one of their heaviest-hitters, well-known Rockville Council member Stephen N. Abrams. Also in the race are state party vice-chairman Stanley Eckles and party worker Richard E. Frederick.
District 18: The overwhelmingly Democratic 18th District, including parts of Silver Spring and Kensington illustrates how in the low-profile legislative races, power and seniority accumulated in Annapolis do not necessarily translate into popularity back home. Lawyer John Hurson is thought to have a chance to capture one of the House seats, with the backing of party vice-chairman Joan Lott and longtime veteran party activist Gus Gentile.
Sen. Margaret C. Schweinhaut has held the senate seat for more than 20 years. Del. Donald B. Robertson, a house member for more than a decade, now is the majority leader. Del. Helen L. Koss, also a house member since 1971, chairs the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee. The baby of the slate is first-termer Patricia R. Sher.
Together the four have a total of more than 50 years of experience in Annapolis.
Schweinhaut is unopposed for reelection. Hurson said of the incumbents' slate,"It's the save-your-skin ticket. They've put away all the hatchets they've used on each other for the last four years to run together as a team."
District 19: After reapportionment, the new 19th District will include parts of Silver Spring, Wheaton, Derwood and Washington Grove. Incumbents Sen. Sidney Kramer, and Dels. Joseph E. Owens, Idamae Garrott and Lucille Maurer, also have an arm's length resume of Annapolis service. Like their colleagues in the 18th, they are running on their years of experience.
One aggressive challenger for a delegate's seat is Carol Petzold. She has a little bit of a grudge. She used to work for former Senator Lawrence Wiser, whom Kramer beat in 1978.
Petzold said she is not running against any one specific incumbent, although she has kind words for Maurer and is known not to like Garrott. She has strong words for the incumbents' slate: "It harkens back to the days of the smoke-filled room."
The GOP has all but forgotten the district because of the overwhelmingly Democratic registration.
District 20: The Republicans also have forgotten the 20th District, the densely-populated Democratic stronghold of East Silver Spring and Takoma Park. The 20th was expected to host the county's liveliest and most bitter primary battle, between veteran Sen. Victor L. Crawford and Del. Stuart Bainum, the wealthy newcomer who has built one of the county's most powerful organizations.
Crawford bowed out of the race to direct the incumbents' slate efforts, rather than face Bainum, who gained widespread name recognition after his unsuccessful congressional bid two years ago.
Now Bainum's race looks more like a saunter against his GOP opponent, lawyer Stephen Leventhal.
Bainum's choice to succeed him in the House is Diane Kirchenbauer, his legislative director. She has been endorsed for the third slot on the incumbents' slate, along with Del. Ida G. Ruben, the delegation chairman, and Del. Sheila Hixson.