- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Compared with other states, getting on the ballot in Maryland is relatively easy — all you need is $290 for a statewide contest and $50 for a legislative race.

Yet, as the filing deadline passed Monday, there were few last-minute surprises and a lot of uncontested races. For example, 20 of the 47 seats in the state Senate will be uncontested in the general election.

Last-minute filings included Republican Ron Miller, a conservative, anti-gambling, former Air Force officer who was personally recruited by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to run against Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller in Senate District 27, which includes Calvert and Prince George’s counties.

Also filing was former Baltimore City Council President Lawrence Bell, who emerged from the political wilderness to jump into a hotly contested Senate race in Baltimore’s 40th District.

Mr. Bell, who lost to Martin O’Malley in Baltimore’s 1999 mayoral race, is seeking to replace state Sen. Ralph M. Hughes, who’s retiring. Other candidates for that seat include Delegates Catherine E. Pugh and Salima Siler Marriott, City Council member Belinda Conaway, prisoners’ rights activist Tara Andrews and former City Council candidate Timothy Mercer.

Mr. Bell, who seemingly had disappeared from local politics, told the Baltimore Sun that he’s heard from a lot of people urging him to get involved again.

“We need to have strong voices in Annapolis,” he said. “I’ve always had a passion for the city.”

Ron Miller, who filed at first to run for the 5th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, said he received a call from Mr. Ehrlich on Thursday urging him to challenge Mr. Miller.

“I think this is a more winnable race,” Mr. Miller said.

The nine-year Air Force veteran will be going up against a politician who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1970 and has been Senate president for 20 years — the longest tenure in state history.

“Some people may say jumping from a race against Hoyer to a race against Miller is like jumping from the frying pan to the fire,” Ron Miller said.

The senator said: “This name’s-the-same game is an old Baltimore City trick. Every four years, they run someone named Miller against me.”

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