- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

CUMBERLAND, Md. State House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. lost to his Republican challenger, ending a 28-year career in state politics, a vote recount showed yesterday.
Mr. Taylor issued a statement conceding victory to LeRoy E. Myers Jr., who netted five additional votes.
The recount widened his margin of victory to 76 out of 11,238 votes cast in legislative District 1C, local election officials said. The district covers parts of Allegany and Washington counties in Western Maryland.
Mr. Myers, a Washington County building contractor and political novice who upset one of Maryland's most powerful politicians, said "it feels great."
"I'm ready to get on with being a delegate. I know what I wanted to do when I intended to run. My focus has not changed. I want to serve the people," the Republican said.
Mr. Taylor declined to comment beyond a statement he issued yesterday afternoon, thanking his colleagues.
"After 28 years of long days and continuous travel to and from Annapolis, I am looking forward to private life, but I fully expect and hope to continue in some form of public service," the statement said. "The passion to serve remains in my heart as I consider my days ahead and how to spend them."
Mr. Myers said he has been attending meetings to prepare for this role, including a gathering of Republican lawmakers earlier this month in Annapolis and a meeting of the Western Maryland delegation this past week.
He said, however, he has not received an orientation packet from the state for freshman legislators.
The tally after the recount of Nov. 5 election returns was 5,657 votes for Mr. Myers and 5,581 for Mr. Taylor, an Allegany County resident who has been a Democratic delegate for 28 years. He has served as speaker, the top post in the House of Delegates, for the past eight years.
Mr. Tayor had requested the manual recount, but had acknowledged there was little chance of a reversal.
Delegate Michael Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat, has the support of a majority of Democratic House members to succeed Mr. Taylor as speaker, according to a prospective transition plan Mr. Busch and Mr. Taylor announced Nov. 11.
All of the additional votes were found in Washington County, which contains four of the district's 19 precincts. Six were for Mr. Myers, one for Mr. Taylor.
Allegany County elections officials finished their recount of more than 7,100 votes at about 10:30 a.m. with no change from the Nov. 5 results, Elections Administrator Catherine O. Davis said. The Allegany recount began Monday.
Washington County officials had expected to find discrepancies because voters there used paper ballots tallied by optical-scanning machines. Such machines cannot read ballots on which voters circled or underlined a name instead of filling in a gap in a printed arrow pointing to a candidate's name.
The Allegany recount was the state's first involving computerized, touch-screen voting machines, which were introduced this year in four Maryland counties. Election officials used new, blank memory cards to transfer data from the 70 Allegany County machines to a central computer, which produced paper images of the ballots for hand counting.
Mr. Taylor got 61 percent of the votes in his home county of Allegany. Mr. Myers got 71 percent of the Washington County vote, where the turnout was greater.
A court-ordered change in the state's redistricting plan added the four, heavily Republican Washington County precincts to Mr. Taylor's district after the nominating deadline passed.
Mr. Taylor may have alienated some conservative voters by supporting an Allegany horse-racing track that could eventually include slot machines. Mr. Myers opposes slot machines.
Mr. Taylor also angered some hunters in his largely rural district by voting for handgun trigger locks and ballistic fingerprinting in 2000.


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