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Arundel Republicans jockeying for county executive job

With John R. Leopold suspended from office due to Tuesday's criminal convictions, some Anne Arundel County Republicans are jockeying to be the next county executive.

"My name is going in," said John Grasso, who represents the Glen Burnie area on the County Council. He announced last year that he planned to run for the office in 2014. "I might as well get a head start."

For months — even as Leopold battled the charges — names have been floated as potential replacements. After Leopold was suspended, some County Council members said that a measure to declare his position vacant would be scheduled for introduction Wednesday and a vote Monday.

If Leopold is removed from office, it is up to the council to choose a Republican to serve until the 2014 election.

State Sen. Ed Reilly of Crofton is considering applying for the position on an interim basis. "I wouldn't be running for county executive and I wouldn't be running for my Senate seat," he said.

But he said others might feel differently, as it is an opportunity — with only a council vote and no campaign costs — to get into the position for a full four-year term.

Also considering applying is Dan Bongino. He said the county executive position was one of several he was already "strongly considering" for a 2014 run.

"I've been approached by a couple of people gauging my interest if [Leopold] were to be removed," the Severna Park resident and former U.S. Senate candidate said.

Other Republicans who have been mentioned for 2014 are Dels. Steven Schuh and Cathy Vitale, along with council president Jerry Walker of Gambrills. None could be reached for comment Tuesday.

The chairman of the county's Republican Central Committee, Alan Rzepkowski, said he expects no shortage of Republicans seeking to be appointed as county executive.

Walker called an emergency meeting for Wednesday afternoon to introduce a bill to remove Leopold from office.

"If he is guilty he is guilty. I am glad to have the trial portion of that completed," said Councilman Richard Ladd, a Broadneck Republican. Ladd said any action to remove Leopold from office should wait until after he is sentenced — or not take effect until then.

Jamie Benoit, a Crownsville Democrat on the council, said he would introduce a measure to declare the county executive position vacant. But it was unclear whether such measures would have the votes needed to pass.

"To the extent he wants to fight what's happening to him my belief is he should fight that war as the former county executive, not the current," Benoit said.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

twitter.com/andsiegel

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

twitter.com/andsiegel

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