Del. Gerry L. Brewster did everything but announce his candidacy for Congress in Maryland's 2nd District yesterday at a news conference at Baltimore County's police and fire headquarters.
The Towson Democrat said his purpose was to announce a tough anti-crime legislative agenda for the 1994 General Assembly -- and to say he will not be seeking re-election to the legislature next year.
In the best tradition of noncandidates, he didn't say what he would be running for. But the small gathering in the building lobby had all the trappings of a campaign event -- from the red, white and blue "Brewster '94" campaign buttons worn by supporters to the presence of the delegate's father, former U.S. Sen. Daniel Brewster, at his side.
Mr. Brewster's legislative agenda seemed tailor-made for the current wave of anti-crime sentiment sweeping the public. His proposals include elimination of any parole for people serving life sentences, increased penalties for prescription drug forgeries and a weakening of laws protecting juveniles under 14 from prosecution as adults for serious crimes.
In again proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution that would allow crime victims the right to speak at some court proceedings, Mr. Brewster referred to "the pro-criminal lobby" as the bill's main foes.
Mr. Brewster acknowledged in a prepared statement that a federal campaign committee has been formed for him, and that his supporters have urged him to run for the congressional seat now held by Republican Rep. Helen D. Bentley, who is running for governor. Mr. Brewster said his supporters are "currently building a framework upon which a successful congressional campaign could be run."
He also made statements that seemed to imply criticism of fellow Baltimore County Del. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican who announced his candidacy for the same congressional seat exactly one month ago.
Mr. Brewster denied that was his purpose, however. "I am morally bound to devote my time, attention, and effort to this final 90-day session," he said, adding that he will not allow politics to intervene with what he called his "sacred trust" of public service.
Mr. Ehrlich said later that he took no offense.
"I'll take him at his word," Mr. Ehrlich said. He said his own al
ready announced candidacy for Congress will not detract from his work in Annapolis.
Although Mr. Brewster is perhaps the best known among the early candidates for Mrs. Bentley's seat in Congress, some local politicians believe Kathleen Kennedy Townsend might enter the Democratic primary despite her new federal Justice Department job as acting deputy assistant attorney general.
Ms. Townsend, who ran for Congress in 1986 and lost to Mrs. Bentley, yesterday issued a terse "no comment" on her candidacy through a spokesman.
Other Democrats planning a race for the seat include former Harford County delegate and county Councilwoman Barbara O. Kreamer, 45, who lost a 1990 1st District congressional primary election to then-incumbent Roy Dyson, and three men who have already filed for the 2nd District seat.
They are James E. DeLoach, Jr., 28, of Baltimore County and Joseph J. Bish Jr., 36, of Bel Air -- both unsuccessful candidates in the 1992 Democratic primary for the same seat -- and Kauko H. Kokkonen of Towson, a men's rights activist.
The 2nd District's boundaries changed slightly in reapportionment after the 1990 Census.
It now includes 370,000 people in eastern and northern Baltimore County, all of Harford County's 182,000 residents and about 45,000 people in a small portion of Anne Arundel County around Gibson Island.