Democrat Parris Glendening handily won his bid to become the next Prince George's County executive yesterday, beating his Republican opponent Ann Shoch by more than 2 to 1 in late night returns.
Shoch, who campaigned as the natural successor to outgoing Republican County Executive Lawrence Hogan, conceded her defeat at about 10:30 p.m.
Glendening, a former two-term County Council member and a University of Maryland professor,led a county-wide sweep for his party in the overwhelmingly Democratic jurisdiction.
Democrats led their GOP challengers in County Council and legislative races by wide margins in virtually every district except the northern, Laurel-based Legislative District 13B. There, where county voters elected two new members to the House of Delegates, Julia Brown almost became the first Prince George's Republican to win a seat in the General Assembly since the early 1950s. But she lagged behind second-place finisher William C. Bevan, who received 3,673 votes to her 3,388 votes.
But at the same time, voters soundly defeated a proposal supported by most Democrats, which would have modified the county's strict property-tax limit. The proposal, called TRIM Plus-4 but which appeared on the ballot as Question K, would have slightly lifted the ceiling on the amount of revenue the county could collect from property taxes. Glendening had made approval of Question K a central issue of his campaign, while Republican Shoch opposed Question K equally strongly.
As a a result of its defeat last night, Shoch said, "I can still lose and be overjoyed. I'm just delighted because it lost."
Another ballot question, to provide funds for the construction of a new jail, won overwhelming support.
Glendening said he hoped his strong showing in the polls would help him in a search for alternative funding for county services that, he said, would take him from the legislature in Annapolis to Capitol Hill. "The message is that the people of Prince George's County want us to maintain services," he said, "but they don't want it based on the property tax."
"To paraphrase Winston Churchill, who said 'I do not intend to preside over the liquidation of an empire,' " Glendening later said, "I do not intend to preside over the liquidation of services in Prince George's County."
Glendening reaped the benefits of a methodical, two-year campaign that began with quiet fund-raising events and committee meetings and culminated in a radio advertising blitz last week.
Shoch, a member of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission who entered the race in July, had been unable to match Glendening's organizational and fund-raising ability in the relatively genial, summer-long campaign.
Glendening, 40, raised more than $250,000, operated two campaign offices and developed a cadre of campaign workers from inside and outside the traditional circle of party activists. Despite the animosity of some fellow Democrats early in the race, who anonymously printed buttons saying "ABP" (for "Anybody But Parris"), Glendening ran as the consensus candidate, espousing traditional Democratic values. He won his party's nomination by sweeping past three obscure challengers, and locking up endorsements from groups as diverse as the Washington council of the AFL-CIO and Biz-Pac, the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce political action committee. Glendening also enjoyed the organizational support of the majority Democratic Party, which arranged campaign events with Gov. Harry Hughes and U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, and printed and mailed literature to every registered voter in the county.
Shoch, 42, of Fort Washington, raised only about one-tenth as much as Glendening and had to compete in a difficult primary before turning her attention to the general election campaign. She could not afford a media blitz and last week was able to print only enough literature to reach fewer than half the county's voters. Both candidates claimed that their previous jobs provided them with the best experience to be executive.
In the council races, most Democrats had survived difficult primaries to face relatively inexperienced or little-known opponents.
Republicans Ella Ennis, in District 9, and Wilbert Wilson, in District 6, were considered the GOP's strongest candidates, but both were defeated by Democratic opponents last night.
In District 9, Ennis faced incumbent Democrat William Amonett. She had hoped to benefit from what she considered the strong anti-incumbent feeling reflected in his narrow victory in the primary. "I think people built up Ella because the primary was so close," said Amonett's treasurer, Joseph A. Hicks, "But it made us work harder. We were scared. There's no denying that."
In council District 6, Wilson, who is black, attempted to rally the support of black voters in his fight against school board member JoAnn Bell, who defeated the incumbent council Chairman Gerard McDonough in the Democratic primary. But 4 out of 5 predominantly black precincts in the district, whose population is about 50 percent black, supported Bell in the primary. Wilson, a former Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for County Council four years ago, opposed Plus-4/Question K, saying a poll of his community supported his position. Bell said she was in favor of the modification to the tax limit.
In District 8, incumbent Sue V. Mills swept past Republican challenger Louis Cross and candidate Joseph Johnson, a longtime citizen activist.
Most of the county's incumbent Democratic state legislators ran unopposed.
In the two contested school board races, Nancy C. Cummings, a schoolteacher, lost to Paul Shelby, a lawyer, in the Bowie-based district. Incumbent Angelo Castelli, a lawyer from the Oxon Hill-based district, beat back a challenge from Otis Ducker, an administrator at the National Institutes of Health.