Ex-transportation secretary files for Howard's District 9B delegate seat

Former state Transportation Secretary and Republican state Delegate Bob Flanagan announced Wednesday his candidacy to represent District 9B in the House of Delegates.

Flanagan shared the news at an evening event at the Shanty Grille in Ellicott City.

Flanagan, 67, joins Ellicott City business owner Carol Loveless, a Republican, and blogger and former Columbia Association Board member Tom Coale, a Democrat from Ellicott City, in the race for District 9B, which includes Ellicott City and portions of Columbia and Elkridge. The district was formerly a part of District 9A. The change this election cycle follows redistricting that took effect last year.

Flanagan, who has focused on his law firm in recent years, said days before making the announcement that he felt compelled to re-enter the political arena because of what he sees as out-of-control spending and political one-sidedness at the state level.

"I think what's happened in the last eight years, with just the flood of tax increases piling on top of one another, has been really bad for the future of Maryland," he said. In the House of Delegates, "I had a reputation as a fiscal conservative, and I had a reputation for knowing the budget and being able to challenge the cycle of tax-and-spend.

"I also look at how lopsided the legislature is, between Democrats and Republicans," he added. "People who are concerned about mounting tax burden deserve a strong voice that is not being heard."

Flanagan, who served as a delegate from 1987 until he was appointed transportation secretary by former Gov. Robert Ehrlich in 2003, said he worked to provide that alternative voice.

"I think I was recognized as someone who could debate the issues with the opposing party in a way that was principled and explained an alternative, common-sense point of view that sometimes prevailed but certainly always exposed the misdirection of the opposing party," he said.

One example of the kind of "tax and spend" policies going on in the State House, in Flanagan's view, is the proposal to build the Red Line, a light-rail train system that would connect east and west Baltimore. He said its $2.6 billion price tag was too high and that it would worsen traffic in the city.

"If I had a chance to pick one particular thing and throw it in the trash can, it probably would be [the Red Line]," he said.

Flanagan said he thinks District 9B voters will be responsive to his desire to scale back state spending.

"The voters in this district are saving for their kids' college education, they're saving for their retirement, they're trying to keep their mortgage paid and their credit card balances paid," he said. "Life is a struggle, and we live in a great place, we have a great quality of life, but these are families that have very reasonable aspirations for themselves and their children. And the burdens that are being placed on them are not fair. Bottom line, they're not getting their money's worth from state government."

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