Baltimore County

Balto. Co. candidate's name change request upheld

Rebecca L. Nelson will be able to use the Weir family name again on the Nov. 2 general election ballot for the 7th District state Senate seat.

After Nelson defeated James G. Stavropoulos Jr. in the September primary election, he questioned the legitimacy of the name she had used on the ballot, "Rebecca Weir Nelson." Nelson is a cousin of Democratic Del. Michael H. Weir Jr. Stavropoulos accused her of using that name to hide criminal incidents that occurred after her failed 2006 run for the House of Delegates.

State election officials approved the name change for the general election after Nelson submitted two affidavits by individuals supporting the request.

Nelson will face Republican J.B. Jennings in the general election. The district includes sections of Baltimore and Harford counties, and is now represented by Republican Andy Harris, who is giving up his seat to run for Congress.

Stavropoulos, who is now running as a write-in candidate for the seat, said he still believes that the State Board of Elections erred in allowing Nelson to use the name in the primary, which she won by a 4,177 to 3,492 margin.

"When you make a law, you stand behind the law," Stavropoulos said.

For her part, Nelson said she's only honoring her heritage.

"I hope I was able to answer my opponents [sic] question about my name change," she said by e-mail. "I was trying to show honor to my Mother's family who lived in Essex."

Nelson said she decided to list "Weir" as her middle name after her opponent in the 2006 race questioned whether she was even a Democrat, based on some of her political stances.

She was hit with a $1,400 fine from Baltimore County Animal Control for operating an illegal pit bull breeding pen in August 2006, and charged with second-degree assault the following year, a case that was dropped. Nelson denies any wrongdoing.