- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

Outnumbered 98-43 in the House of Delegates, Maryland Republicans have a goal: If they can pick up up 14 seats, they would have enough Republicans to prevent the Democrats from overriding gubernatorial vetoes.

In 2002, Republicans defeated House Speaker Caspar Taylor, a moderate Democrat whose voting record was to the left of his conservative Western Maryland district. This year, Republicans want to do the same in the case of his successor, House Speaker Michael Busch, in Maryland District 30, a three-member district in Anne Arundel County, currently represented by two Democrats and one Republican. Mr. Busch more than anyone symbolizes the leftward lurch of the General Assembly during the past four years, including his efforts to raise sales and income taxes, to permit illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses, to hit Wal-Mart with a punitive tax to fund Medicaid, to solve the malpractice problem by hitting HMOs with a new tax and much more.

Fortunately, there are three Republican candidates who offer an alternative to Mr. Busch’s reflexive liberalism: Ron George, an Annapolis jeweler; Andy Smarick, who runs an organization promoting charter schools; and Dr. Ron Elfenbein, a physician. All three Republicans would be a substantial improvement over the speaker and his two liberal ticket-mates. The Washington Times endorses Ron George, Andy Smarick and Ron Elfenbein for the House of Delegates in Maryland’s 30th District.

Republicans and conservatives see the 13th Legislative District in Howard County as one of the most promising opportunities to pick up seats. All three Democratic incumbents are staunch liberals. All three Republican challengers are solid, thoughtful conservative critics of the Democratic majority’s approach on crime, taxes and suffocating economic regulations. The Washington Times endorses Rick Bowers, Mary Beth Tung and Loretta Gaffney in the 13th District.

In District 38B, a two-delegate district located in Wicomico and Worcester Counties on the Eastern Shore, Republicans are seeking to oust Delegate Norman Conway, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Delegate Jim Mathias, appointed to fill a vacancy in June. The Republican challengers, Ocean City property manager Michael James and real-estate agent Bonnie Luna, are focusing their campaigns on the incumbents’ support for overriding Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s vetoes, including the Wal-Mart bill — legislation that jeopardizes 800 jobs at a Wal-Mart distribution facility in the area. The Washington Times endorses Bonnie Luna and Michael James for the House.

In District 27B, located in Calvert County, the incumbent delegate is Sue Kullen, appointed in 2004 to fill a vacancy.The Republican challenger, David Hale, president of the Calvert County Board of Commissioners, is a moderate who criticizes Mrs. Kullen’s support for the Wal-Mart bill and the General Assembly’s anti-business tilt. Mrs. Kullen supported Howard Dean’s presidential run two years ago, and money is being solicited on her behalf on the Dailykos.blog. The Washington Times endorses David Hale for the House.

In Southern Maryland District 29C, Democrats are targeting House Minority Whip Anthony O’Donnell with fliers depicting him as a supporter of tax increases for supporting a user fee to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The tax charge is absurd: Few legislators have been as consistent in opposing tax increases as Mr. O’Donnell. He has also done standout work in winning House passage of legislation imposing tougher sentences on sex offenders in the face of the Democratic House leadership’s opposition. The Washington Times endorses Anthony O’Donnell for re-election to the House.

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