West county conservatives may have more options than the two Republican delegate candidates on the ballot come November.
In District 9A, former candidate Frank Mirabile is toying with the idea of launching a write-in campaign.
Mirabile, a self-employed landscape contractor from Woodbine, lost the second nomination for the district's two delegate seats by just 65 votes in last month's primary. He came in third behind former Maryland Transportation Authority President Trent Kittleman, who ran for Howard County executive in 2010 and is the stepmother of current county executive candidate Allan Kittleman, a state senator from District 9.
"She's a nice woman, but... what we need in Annapolis is Republicans who are going to be much more aggressive," Mirabile said of Trent Kittleman. "I just don't think she's going to have the vocal certitude I had."
A Facebook post by Mirabile's campaign on June 30 – before the final round of absentee ballots were counted July 7 – indicated that he might consider a write-in candidacy if he didn't win.
"If the final count doesn't make up the votes necessary there is one more route we could go to elect a Stand Our Ground representative.. More on that after July 7th," the post reads. 'Stand Our Ground' refers to the Mirabile campaign's slogan, a Tea Party-esque exhortation to local conservatives not to compromise on their values.
On July 8, Mirabile said that while his campaign had contemplated the write-in option, "we haven't made a decision, yes or no, as of yet. We're really looking at the options."
He said he might also decide to form a conservative group, possibly a political action committee, instead.
"We're definitely not going to remain silent," he said. "We're going to remain proponents of conservative ideology, and even call some Republicans out."
Mirabile said he believed he would take a harder line than Kittleman on both fiscal and social issues if elected to the State House.
"She's looking for an accolade for her wall, and if she represents our district the way she managed Transportation look out for your wallets," he wrote on Facebook. "She's clearly state [sic] she feels she can negotiate with the progressives...the question is negotiate what? More of our assets and our social convictions?"
"In clear contrast, I am looking to run offense to represent us and build the conservative base of our party," the post continues. "To fight the progressives not capitulate to them. To protect our property rights thwarting the progressive [environmental] radicalism and to push the line back on the progressive social agenda. And most of all I want to hold [them] accountable exposing their white collar crime of taxing us just so they can play Santa to their constituents. Trent... She wants to have a conversation. God help us."
Kittleman brushed aside Mirabile's criticism of her conservative credentials.
"It's so funny, because I've been a conservative Republican my whole life," she said. "I think a lot of the difference between Frank and myself is about the way we say things. I have learned over time that I can put things into language that people can understand regardless of their political persuasion."
Kittleman said she thought some of Mirabile's attacks, such as those on her teacher's union endorsement, were misguided.
"I was 100 percent honest in my answers" to the union's questionnaire she said, adding that she supports charter schools and isn't a big fan of unions. "I think they were looking for someone they can work with.
"I think Frank will do the right thing, when push comes to shove, because Republicans can't afford to be fractured," she added.
Howard County Republican Party chairwoman Loretta Shields said she hadn't heard about Mirabile's plans and had no comment.
In the final count, Mirabile garnered more votes on election day, but Kittleman held on to her early voting lead by winning more absentee and provisional ballot votes.
Incumbent Del. Warren Miller, a Republican who has served in the State House since 2003, had a comfortable first-place finish in the primary, with about 29 percent of the vote. The district's other incumbent delegate, Gail Bates, is running to fill the District 9 state Senate seat that Allan Kittleman leaves behind.