- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2000

Republican winners in Tuesday's Maryland primary will rely on grass-roots efforts to woo voters to the state's longtime minority party in November's general election.

Paul H. Rappaport the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate with 23 percent of the vote from a field of eight says he will run a campaign built on drawing people rather than their pocketbooks.

Anti-crime initiatives that helped him become the party's choice for lieutenant governor in 1994 and attorney general in 1998 would again be cornerstones in his campaign against incumbent Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes in November, Mr. Rappaport said.

"Sarbanes has done absolutely nothing about crime in Maryland. I intend to do something about it," said Mr. Rappaport, a lawyer and former Howard County police chief.

He said he wants Maryland to copy Virginia's successful crime program, "Project Exile," which has drawn broad bipartisan support among legislators in Annapolis.

Project Exile brings federal charges against convicted felons found with guns to ensure they will serve long sentences in distant prisons.

Promises to crack down on violent crime helped propel Democrat Martin O'Malley to victory in the Baltimore mayoral race in December. Mr. Rappaport believes it's a potent message that will help get the attention of Democrats and independents, whom any Republican candidate must draw to win in Maryland, where Democrat voters outnumber Republicans 2 to 1.

Mr. Rappaport also criticized Mr. Sarbanes on the foreign policy front, claiming he has helped make it easier for China to establish strongholds around military bases U.S. forces built.

Mr. Sarbanes declined to comment on Mr. Rappaport's statements.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman Richard Bennett said the spacious new state party headquarters in Annapolis, with three floors and 14 phone lines, will be an important resource for candidates in the general election and make it easier than in the last election in 1998.

Mr. Bennett said the party would make it available both to Mr. Rappaport and to George W. Bush, who won the presidential primary in Maryland with 56 percent.

No incumbents were even shaken, let alone beaten, in Maryland's primary. But a Montgomery County Council race to replace a retiring council member is a nail-biter.

Just 35 votes separate Republicans Howard A. Denis the front-runner and a former state senator and counsel to Congress and newcomer Mary Kane whose family owns Office Movers and other trucking companies in the contest to represent the county's affluent southwestern 1st District.

But Democrats decidedly tapped Patricia Baptiste, the woman Republican Betty Ann Krahnke endorsed to replace her serving after more than nine years on the council.

Mrs. Krahnke announced in January that she would resign April 17 because of her battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Late last month, Mrs. Krahnke threw her support to Mrs. Baptiste, who shares her commitment to historic preservation and community preservation through slow growth.

Mrs. Baptiste said she expects to have the advantage over her opponent in the special election April 18 because Democrats outnumber Republicans in the council's 1st District and because Mrs. Krahnke's endorsement should help her attract centrist Republicans and independents.

Mrs. Baptiste said voters will appreciate her "more Democratic" stances on social issues.

Mrs. Kane did not return phone calls yesterday.

Pundits said the 350 or more absentee ballots that must be counted in the Republican race are apt to lean toward Mr. Denis because he is the better-known candidate.

Still, Mr. Denis said that it's too early to declare victory, and that he would support Mrs. Kane if she wins.

But telephoning from a neighborhood supermarket yesterday Mr. Denis said he was already campaigning because there's no time to waste with less than six weeks before voters determine Mrs. Krahnke's successor.

"I'm going to wage a positive campaign, but clearly the biggest issue is traffic management," Mr. Denis said, adding that he supports building the Intercounty Connector a controversial road proposed to connect Interstates 270 and 95 as well as expanding mass transit.

Although polls show voters in Montgomery and across Maryland support building the road stalled in 40 years of fighting between environmental, neighborhood, business and commuter advocacy groups it's less certain how the issue will play in District 1.

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