Prince George's County had not had a Republican legislator in Annapolis for more than 30 years. But that changed in September when Democratic Del. Thomas J. Mooney switched his affiliation, and two of his former party mates have introduced legislation that would keep it that way.

Dels. Pauline H. Menes and Timothy F. Maloney, who with Mooney represent the 21st District, including Beltsville, College Park and Takoma Park, called Mooney's switch an "abandonment" and have introduced legislation aimed at making sure that the seat reverts to the majority party if Mooney should step aside.

They told members of the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee yesterday that they want the Democratic State Central Committee to retain the right to fill the vacancy should Mooney give up his seat before November's elections.

Mooney called their bill "cheap, tawdry and political."

The issue may be moot, because Mooney, who is a candidate for U.S. Senate, has said he has no plans to step aside.

Still, county Democratic State Central Committee Chairman Gary Alexander, another Prince George's delegate, produced an attorney general's opinion that generally supported the Democrats' position.

Said Maloney of any Republican attempt to get another member in the delegation: "We don't think we'll see another one before the end of the century."