The 2006 Senate bid of Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) drew support yesterday from more than a dozen members of Howard County's Democratic establishment, as well as a prominent African American minister from one of the county's largest black churches.

The endorsements came less than a week after Cardin announced that he had the backing of 17 elected officials from Anne Arundel County and are part of a county-by-county strategy to demonstrate the breadth of his support.

The backing from Howard County, which contains a small sliver of Cardin's congressional district, adds geographic scope to his campaign to succeed U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D), who is retiring after nearly 40 years in public life. Cardin already has the support of House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D), who represents Southern Maryland's three counties and parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.

Endorsing Cardin yesterday were Howard County Executive James N. Robey, State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone, Sheriff Charles M. Cave, the three Democrats on the county council, state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer and the county's six Democratic delegates.

Robey said Cardin has helped Howard County line up funding for homeland security and for the revitalization of Route 1. "He's not like folks with egos who want to do more for themselves than for others," Robey said.

The Rev. John L. Wright, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Guilford in Columbia, said Cardin is a longtime supporter of issues of importance to blacks.

Kweisi Mfume of Baltimore, a former congressman and former head of the NAACP, is the other major candidate seeking the Democratic nomination. Two other Democrats, Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Montgomery County businessman Joshua Rales, have expressed interest. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele is said to be considering a run.