- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

ANNAPOLIS — State Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr. yesterday registered as a Republican candidate for his seat after having switched parties earlier this week.

Mr. Giannetti, a College Park resident, was trounced in this month’s Democratic primary by James C. Rosapepe, a former U.S. ambassador and state delegate.

“As far as opportunism goes, this is an opportunity to continue in public service for four more years,” said Mr. Giannetti, 42, after filing papers at the state Board of Elections. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking the opportunity.”

He was joined by state Republican Party Chairman John M. Kane, who said Mr. Giannetti’s switch will give Republicans a better chance of winning the five Senate seats they need to sustain a party-line filibuster and block veto overrides by the Democrat-controlled legislature.

“We might now get six [seats],” Mr. Kane said. “A good Republican in my world is an elected Republican.”

A loophole in the state’s “sore loser law” allowed Mr. Giannetti to switch parties in a bid to keep his seat.

The law bars the loser of a primary election from having his or her name appear on the ballot for the general election. An exception allows a county central committee to replace a candidate who has withdrawn his or her name from the ballot.

On Monday, Mr. Kane told Mr. Giannetti that the winner of the Republican primary, John Stafford, had withdrawn his name and that the Republican central committees for Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties were prepared to nominate Mr. Giannetti.

Mr. Giannetti, who has been a state senator since 2003, switched parties Tuesday.

He said his and wife Erin’s initial resistance to switching parties yielded to an aggressive recruitment effort by Mr. Kane and Sen. Alex X. Mooney, Frederick Republican.

“My politics aren’t changing one single bit,” said Mr. Giannetti, who is Catholic and holds conservative views on issues such as abortion.

He cast his defeat in the primary as an example of the Democratic Party moving further to the left.

“My opponent does represent the ultra-left wing of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Giannetti said.

Mr. Rosapepe, 55, noted that Mr. Giannetti’s district “is 2-to-1 Democratic.”

“I think people in this district are looking for leaders they can trust to remain true to their commitments,” Mr. Rosapepe said. “When someone says on Monday that they’re a Democrat and then on Wednesday that they’re a Republican, I think Democrats, Republicans, independents are not reacting well to that.”

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George’s Democrat, said he advised Mr. Giannetti against the change.

“It’s a bad decision for him personally and careerwise,” Mr. Miller said. “I think he’s going to lose worse in the general election than he did in the primary.”

State Sen. John C. Astle, an Anne Arundel Democrat who faces a tough challenge from Delegate Herb McMillan, said Mr. Giannetti’s switch “makes [the Republicans] look bad.”

“If they’re so desperate they’re recruiting losers, you’ve got to wonder,” he said.

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