- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Howard County Republicans have begun advertising for candidates to fill a state Senate vacancy left by the death of Robert Kittleman, a one-time minority leader in the House of Delegates.

The county’s GOP central committee plans to make a decision on Sept. 29, said Howard Rensin, chairman of the Howard County GOP.

Mr. Kittleman, 78, died of leukemia Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was a member of the House of Delegates for 19 years before moving to the Senate in 2002.

The committee began advertising for a replacement before Mr. Kittleman’s memorial service, which is scheduled for Tuesday. But most Republican leaders would not speculate publicly on who might replace him.

“We’re grieved by the loss. Our top priority is on grieving,” said Anthony C. Wisniewski, a member of the central committee.

Despite the public silence, private discussions have been held on a successor.

“Kittleman was so highly regarded [that] there’s really an effort to give the appearance of not moving forward too rapidly. On the other hand, they’ve got to do something,” said Donald F. Norris, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The central committee has until Oct. 11 to recommend a replacement. Since about one-third of the district is in Carroll County, that county’s GOP committee also will make a recommendation to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican who will make the appointment.

But Mr Kittleman’s successor is likely to come from Howard County since that is where most voters in the district live.

Two potential replacements are Howard County Council member Christopher J. Merdon of Ellicott City and Delegate Gail H. Bates, who represents the western part of the county in the House of Delegates.

Mr. Kittleman’s widow, Trent, and son, Allan, a County Council member, also have been mentioned as replacements.

“I haven’t made any formal decision,” Allan Kittleman said. He has said in the past he intended to run for county executive in 2006.

Mrs. Kittleman, whose mother died just three days before her husband, said she is not yet able to focus on politics. She is the deputy state secretary of transportation.

Mr. Merdon declined to comment on the Senate seat. Mrs. Bates also said she was reluctant to talk politics before Mr. Kittleman’s memorial service.

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