Del. Patrick C. Scannello will miss the rest of the 90-day General Assembly session while battling back from a blood disorder caused by two years of chemotherapy.
A Glen Burnie Democrat, Mr. Scannello is undergoing treatment at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. He could return to his home in the North Glen neighborhood this weekend.
"I've scratched it for this year," Mr. Scannello said yesterday, referring to the 2 1/2 weeks left in the General Assembly session. "But I've got big things planned for next year, so watch out!"
Mr. Scannello, 55, has missed large portions of three of the last four sessions, leaving some people around the State House and in his district wondering whether he will seek re-election in 1994.
The delegate, perhaps best known outside his district for his anti-abortion stance, missed the first two months of the 1991 session after surgeons removed a cancerous lesion from his colon. A year earlier, he was absent six weeks after a kidney stone operation.
The four-term lawmaker said yesterday that the cancer and the blood disorder appear under control and that he will seek another term.
Questions about his re-election plans "kind of make me laugh," Mr. Scannello said. "When some people first heard I had cancer BTC -- I won't mention their names -- but they started lining up like buzzards waiting to see what would happen. Well, there are no hard feelings, but I'm not done yet."
Although Mr. Scannello admittedly keeps a low profile within the legislature (despite his tenure, he has never held a leadership post), he is a formidable politician within his district.
In the last four elections, he has won more votes than any other candidate or incumbent, including Del. Tyras S. "Bunk" Athey, a Jessup Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.
"Pat can deliver the votes, man. That's for sure," said state Sen. Michael J. Wagner, a Ferndale Democrat. "I mean he's beating Bunk Athey, who brings the bacon home to the district."
A former grocer and liquor store owner, Mr. Scannello first ran for delegate in 1974 on a ticket with former Sen. Theodore Bertier, who had lost his seat in 1970 after a scandal in which he awarded his daughter a college scholarship.
Mr. Scannello nearly won one of the three delegate seats despite Mr. Bertier's poor showing, recalled Mr. Wagner, who, in 1978, recruited him to his ticket.
Mr. Scannello genuinely is stumped when asked why he has led his ticket -- including a heavy-hitter like Mr. Athey -- and everyone else in votes.
"I don't do anything exceptional," Mr. Scannello said.
Others say Mr. Scannello's anti-abortion stand and involvement with the Holy Trinity Catholic Church garners him support from what traditionally has been a religiously conservative district.
Still others point to the close relationships Mr. Scannello forged during the years he worked in his family's Vernon Avenue grocery and later its package goods store. They note that his margin is particularly high in the four precincts around the old store.
"Pat would work the register so he got to know people coming in and out all day," said Thomas H. Dixon, president of the North Glen Democratic Club.
"If they didn't have any money, he'd let them buy on credit. Or he'd tell them they should pick up this or that because it was on sale.
"He comes across as someone you trust like your uncle or your grandfather," Mr. Dixon said.