Longtime Democratic political activist James M. Kraft said yesterday that he wants to develop a children's agenda for the state of Maryland as a legislator from Howard County.
Mr. Kraft plans to become a candidate for delegate in the 12th District in the 1994 election. He said he will file for election sometime after the first of the year.
"I am interested in serving in the legislature because I know how the state works," Mr. Kraft said. "I know the players, the people, the geography. I am not shy. I am not hesitant to fight for the issues I believe in."
His main concern, Mr. Kraft said, is for children.
"We already have a generation that will earn less than their parents. . . . We have to focus more on our children. We need healthy, well-fed, well-nourished kids who can finish school and get a job or go to college."
Government is already spending a tremendous amount of money on children for prisons, drug treatment, and welfare, Mr. Kraft said. He thinks the money could be spent in such a way that children would not need those services.
Mr. Kraft wants to end government dependence on gambling -- "You don't build a society by preying on people's weaknesses" -- and broaden the state's gun control laws.
"We've got to get guns off the street," he said. "We've got to get handguns and assault weapons out of circulation. There is no reason people should have assault weapons. You don't hunt deer with assault weapons."
A lack of gun control leads to increased costs for health care and in maintaining the court system, police departments, prisons and parentless children, he said.
Mr. Kraft said he expects to run as a delegate in 12B unless incumbent state Sen. Nancy L. Murphy enters the race for Baltimore County executive.
"I support Nancy Murphy; she's done a good job," Mr. Kraft said. "But if Nancy runs for county executive, I'll reconsider what I'm doing" and run for her Senate seat.
Mr. Kraft said many people had spoken to him about becoming the Democratic standard-bearer here against County Executive Charles I. Ecker, the Republican incumbent.
"I think you're going to have to raise a quarter of a million dollars to run for [Howard] county executive," he said. "I'm not willing to raise that kind of money. Chuck Ecker has the ability to raise big bucks from the business community and other sources. He can raise as much money as he needs, making it that much more difficult for a Democratic challenger."
Time is also a factor, Mr. Kraft said. He would need to give up his law practice in Columbia and Baltimore and devote himself full-time to the race for executive, something he is unwilling to do.
When asked how much he thinks it will cost to win a delegate's seat, Mr. Kraft replied, "Too much! Whatever I raise won't be enough. That's the worst part of this -- to have to go begging people for money. . . . It's wrong."
But he intends to go ahead with some fund-raising. He says he can "hopefully" get by with raising $15,000, but "realistically" thinks a successful war chest for the delegate race will contain $25,000 to $30,000. "You shouldn't have to spend that kind of money," he said.
The major portion might be spent on a primary. If the newly drawn district stays as it is -- the lines are being appealed in court -- at least three or four Democrats will vie for the seat. The district runs from Clary's Forest in west Columbia to Elkridge and is so overwhelmingly Democratic that Robert L. Flanagan, the Republican incumbent, said it is not likely he will seek re-election there. Mr. Flanagan was cut out of the district that twice elected him to the state legislature.
Democrat Rosemary Mortimer, former president of the county PTA Council, has indicated she plans to enter the race.
If the lines do remain the same, Mr. Kraft will have to move from east to west Columbia. He was cut out of the newly drawn district in the final draft. "I'm going to move to west Columbia" regardless, he said.