Henry Bain, senior legislative analyst for the Montgomery County Council, announced yesterday that he will challenge County Executive Sidney Kramer in the upcoming Democratic primary because "too many things have been going wrong lately."
Bain, 64, who is resigning his $58,356-a-year council post, faces an uphill race against the better-known and better-financed incumbent. But Bain said he is counting on voter dissatisfaction with the Kramer regime.
Bain said he is sure that people who are unhappy with county services, growth and traffic congestion know who to blame. "I think Mr. Kramer's name recognition is one of my biggest assets," said Bain.
"Current policies have led us pretty far into the swamp," said Bain, charging that county policy has resulted in development that is "too fast and too dense." The unwise policies, he said, can be traced to the excessive influence of real estate developers and land speculators on county politics.
Bain, a tall man who by his own admission cultivated an air of mild-mannered anonymity in his five years as council aide, refused when pressed by reporters to name an individual or firm that has had undue influence on the government.
Bain's announcement comes a little more than a month before the deadline to file for office, and it had looked like Kramer might not face any opposition in the Sept. 11 primary. Montgomery County State's Attorney Andrew L. Sonner had toyed with the idea of running against Kramer but his polls showed that, even though Sonner was first elected in 1970, he didn't have the necessary name recognition.
Kramer is a millionaire and his ability to raise campaign funds -- more than $100,000 so far -- also has frightened off challengers.
Bain ducked questions about how much money he will need to raise or how much of his own money he would contribute. He said he hoped to attract a large number of volunteers, many from the county's civic movement, to power what he called his grass-roots campaign.
Kramer said he welcomed Bain's candidacy. "It is good and positive to have an opponent that gives you the opportunity to debate and discuss issues," he said. Kramer said that Sonner and council member Neal Potter, both critics of his administration, have been recruiting a challenger. Potter acknowledged he spoke to Bain, but he denied that he recruited him as a candidate. A spokesman for Sonner said Bain contacted the state's attorney after he decided to run.
Another Democrat considering a campaign against Kramer is Friendship Heights Village Council Chairman Alfred Muller. Muller said he will decide after a group of Democratic regulars meets next Tuesday to endorse a candidate for executive. On the Republican side, Chevy Chase businessman Albert Ceccone has announced his candidacy for county executive.