Encouraged by Prince George's County's top elected Democrats, Takoma Park Mayor Stephen J. Del Giudice plans to launch a write-in campaign for the County Council today against convicted Democratic council member Anthony J. Cicoria and his little-known Republican opponent.
Del Giudice, who came in second to Cicoria in a four-way Democratic primary, said he was running to offer an alternative to voters in the district, which includes Takoma Park, University Park and parts of Hyattsville. Cicoria was convicted Tuesday of stealing campaign contributions and lying on his state tax returns, and his Republican opponent, J. Lee Ball Jr., has been disavowed by his party.
County Executive Parris N. Glendening and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, among other Democrats, lobbied Del Giudice to run and pledged their support, Glendening said.
"I almost feel like it's a moral obligation," Glendening said of Del Giudice's effort. Glendening encouraged University Park Mayor Margaret Malino to run in the Democratic primary, hoping that candidates Del Giudice and Doyle Niemann would withdraw. When they didn't, Cicoria won with 30 percent of the vote.
Glendening and others have acknowledged the difficulty in mounting a successful write-in effort, especially one spawned so late in the campaign.
But Dennis Fruitt, Del Giudice's campaign manager, said it was worth the chance. "What's happening is there are a whole lot more checks flowing in. With that kind of groundswell of support, we're just tremendously optimistic."
Fruitt said the campaign would be sending letters to all registered voters in the district urging support for the write-in effort.
Democratic leaders became more concerned yesterday when Ball, 59, who works at a College Park car dealership, was endorsed by the Baltimore Sun. Even Republican leaders have distanced themselves from Ball, a perennial candidate whose father was county sheriff in the 1950s.
Ball found himself the object of media interest yesterday, as newspaper reporters called and television crews arrived at his Hyattsville home. "I don't mind if he's a write-in," Ball said. "That'll cut into the Democratic area even deeper, and I'll be a shoo-in with no question."