HOUSTON -- Republicans -- from Richard Nixon to George Bush -- have carried Harford County in each of the last five presidential elections.
The key to a sixth success, say Harford leaders attending the Republican National Convention, will be Republican strategies to revamp the economy, education and environmental programs.
"The Republican program will create tax incentives to help businesses develop in depressed areas, and it could be of particular assistance in the Route 40 corridor, where the business association is only about two years old," said County Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott. The District B Republican served as one of Maryland's alternate delegates to the national convention.
Harford state Del. David R. Craig, a District 34 Republican and a voting delegate to the convention, said the Republican strategy of boosting scientific research and applied technology to create new jobs also would appeal to Harford voters.
"This fits right in with our HEAT project," said Mr. Craig, referring to the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center planned for the Aberdeen area. The scientific research and development park is aimed at creating new jobs and attracting new industry to Harford County.
"We have a location already designated, and this might make us a primary target for the federal initiative," said Mr. Craig. "The switch to development of new technologies also should help save jobs at Aberdeen Proving Ground despite any military cutbacks, because that's mostly what is being done there now."
In addition to jobs, education has always been a priority for Harford voters, said Mrs. Parrott, adding that most of the educational principles in the Republican platform have already been adopted in Harford County.
"Reducing the drop-out rate, getting the community involved in a partnership with the schools, getting businesses involved in private-public partnerships -- these are things we have already been doing," she said. "And this program can strengthen what we already have."
Another key aspect of the Republican platform that should appeal to Harford voters is the plan to streamline the bureaucracy within the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund hazardous waste clean-up program, Mr. Craig and Mrs. Parrott said.
Mr. Craig said that proposal should especially hit home with voters in his 34th District, home to the Bush Valley Landfill, a Superfund clean-up site.
"It would be nice to get the money sooner so the clean-up can be done more quickly," Mr. Craig said.
Jefferson Blomquist, Harford's deputy county attorney, said EPA red tape has grown so much that it often takes eight to 10 years of investigation before actual clean-up begins at a site where hazardous materials have beenfound. The Bush Valley site is being investigated to determine the type and quantity of pollutants.
"Things have languished as far as Bush Valley is concerned," Mrs. Parrott said. "The EPA bureaucracy must be streamlined so clean-ups can be done much faster."
But David S. Shrodes, chairman of Harford's Democratic Central Committee, doubts these proposals will significantly influence dissatisfied Harford voters.
"It boils down to the pocketbook," said Mr. Shrodes. "The economy has just not recovered, and the number of blue-collar jobs and white-collar jobs that people living in Harford have lost has been overwhelming.
"I also think it's strange that enterprise zones, which haven't been part of the Reagan-Bush vocabulary before, are being used in a tight election contest. We need new blood from the Baby Boom generation."
But Michael Davall, chairman of Harford's Republican Central Committee, said he believes President Bush will appeal to Harford's moderate Republicans and Democrats, and win the election.