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Ehrlich to seek Bentley's House seat Delegate offers conservative stance


Sounding rock-ribbed conservative themes for the coming campaign, Del. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. formally announced his candidacy yesterday for Congress in Maryland's 2nd District.

Standing on the steps of the old Baltimore County Courthouse, Mr. Ehrlich told hundreds of supporters and the county's elected Republicans that he would carry on many of the traditions of Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, who is giving up her seat in the House of Representatives to seek the GOP's nomination for governor.

The two-term delegate from the 10th District pledged to champion the cause of small business, which he said is getting a raw deal from the Clinton administration.

"Most importantly," he said, "I pledge to confront the crisis of standards that threatens our families, our institutions and our way of life."

Mr. Ehrlich said he would take a tough stance on violent crime in Congress and would continue to champion family values.

"I pledge also to continue the tradition of great constituent service that Helen Bentley brought to the district," Mr. Ehrlich said.

Mr. Ehrlich, 35, also took the announcement bandwagon to a restaurant in Pasadena and to the Harford County Courthouse in Bel Air, and he was scheduled to make a fourth announcement last night at Minnick's Restaurant in Dundalk.

The 2nd District, where Democrats hold an edge in voter registration but where the electorate is increasingly conservative and increasingly votes Republican, includes northern and eastern Baltimore County, all of Harford County and a coastline sliver of eastern Anne Arundel County.

The open congressional seat is considered likely to produce one of the hottest general election campaigns in years.

Republican Del. Martha S. Klima, of the 9th District, said she didn't expect Mr. Ehrlich to face a strong challenge in the 1994 GOP primary.

"Bob Ehrlich has the strength, the support and the credibility that makes it unlikely any other strong candidate from the party will get in," she said. "I'm just delighted he is running and running early."

There had been some speculation that party leaders would encourage Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, R-Baltimore County, to get out of the gubernatorial race now that Mrs. Bentley is in it and run instead for Congress.

But Joyce L. Terhes, Maryland's Republican Party chairwoman, said she doesn't intend to put pressure on Mrs. Sauerbrey to switch races.

"Not long ago, the party couldn't get qualified elected officials to run for statewide office," Mrs. Terhes said, "and now that we have candidates like Helen, [William S.] Shepard and Ellen running for governor, now is not the time to ask someone to withdraw."

Mr. Ehrlich was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1986 and won re-election in 1990. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

A native of Arbutus in southwestern Baltimore County, Mr. Ehrlich is a graduate of Princeton University and the Wake Forest University School of Law. He is an attorney with the law firm Ober, Kaler, Grimes and Shriver.

On the Democratic side, Gerry L. Brewster, 36, a first-term delegate from the county's 9th District and the son of former U.S. Sen. Daniel B. Brewster, has said he intends to seek the congressional seat.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who tried to unseat Mrs. Bentley in 1986, indicated this week that she, too, is considering the race.

Barbara O. Kreamer of Aberdeen, a former Harford County councilwoman and state delegate who lost a bid for the old 1st District congressional seat in 1990, has announced her candidacy.

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