The face and character of Maryland's General Assembly is about to change.
With nearly half the 47-member state Senate and more than a third of the 141-member House of Delegates retiring, running for other office or facing tough re-election fights, the stage was set yesterday for perhaps the largest turnover in Maryland's legislature in 20 years.
As last night's 9 p.m. candidate filing deadline approached, it became clear that the General Assembly that will be elected to a four-year term in November will be more diverse than the one it is replacing.
"Most likely, we'll have more women, more Republicans, more members of the African-American community -- a Senate more representative of the population of the state," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Prince George's County Democrat.
The new legislature also is likely to be less experienced, particularly in the Senate, where 14 senators are retiring or running for other office, including eight who first came to the legislature from 1947 to 1977.
More than 40 delegates are not seeking re-election to the House, including at least 13 -- six from Montgomery County -- who hope to move across the hall to the Senate.
Despite the impending overhaul, the new legislature is likely to include some familiar names.
At least 20 former members of the General Assembly -- including Democrat Roy P. Dyson, a former five-term 1st District congressman -- are making comeback bids.
Mr. Dyson was defeated by Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest in 1990 in a race in which the congressman's ethics and ties to special interests were questioned. He is running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Calvert County's Bernie Fowler, who had planned to retire but is running for lieutenant governor on the gubernatorial ticket of another state senator, Baltimore Democrat American Joe Miedusiewski.
Also running again are three former legislators who have had brushes with the law. Tommie Broadwater Jr. of Prince George's County, convicted in 1983 of food stamp fraud, hopes to win his old Senate seat, and Sylvania W. Woods Jr., a Prince George's Democrat who was convicted in 1991 of theft and misconduct-in-office charges, is seeking to return to the House.
Former Baltimore Del. Nathaniel Oaks, who received a five-year suspended sentence after being convicted of stealing more than $10,000 from his re-election fund in 1988, also is running for a House seat.
Two of the state's better known political gadflies, Robin Ficker of Montgomery County and John R. Leopold of Anne Arundel County, both former Republican delegates, are running for the House again.
Elizabeth Bobo, a former Howard County executive, is running for a seat in the House of Delegates, as is Mark K. Shriver of Bethesda, son of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The younger Mr. Shriver's cousin, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is running for lieutenant governor on the ticket with Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening.
vTC In addition, a new generation of Maryland politicians has entered this year's races, including the sons of nearly a dozen current or former state senators, delegates, sheriffs, judges and legislative lobbyists. Among them is Clarence Mitchell IV of Baltimore, grandson of the late civil rights leader. Mr. Mitchell is seeking a House seat from Baltimore's 44th District. Norman Brailey, son of former Baltimore Sen. Troy Brailey, is running for the state Senate against the man who ousted his father, Sen. Ralph M. Hughes.
Three Baltimore city councilmen also have filed: Timothy D. Murphy, for a House seat from South Baltimore's Subdistrict 47A; Perry Sfikas, for Mr. Miedusiewski's District 46 Senate seat; and Carl Stokes, challenging former Councilman Nathaniel J. McFadden for the Northeast Baltimore 45th District Senate seat being vacated by Nathan C. Irby Jr..
Gene M. Raynor, the state elections board chief, said that in all, 749 candidates filed for state offices this year, the most since 751 filed in 1982. The record is 768 in 1978.
This year's election, the first since new districts were drawn, is evidence of the political upheaval that has caused.
Incumbents have been thrown into districts where they must run against other incumbents. In Baltimore County, for instance, two incumbent Democratic senators, Janice Piccinini and Paula C. Hollinger, are fighting for a single Senate seat.
Redistricting is one of the main reason for the large crop of candidates. "Any time an election follows redistricting, it gives nonincumbents what they would feel are advantages," Mr. Raynor said.
The dean of the legislature, 81-year-old Sen. Frederick C. Malkus Jr., a Dorchester County Democrat who has been a fixture in the General Assembly since 1947, is not coming back. Nor is Del. Gary R. Alexander, a Prince George's Democrat who was speaker pro tem in the House.
Senate leaders who will not return include Finance Committee Chairman Thomas P. O'Reilly, a Prince George's Democrat who resigned to take a job on the Workers' Compensation Commission, and his vice chairman, James C. Simpson, a Charles County Democrat who planned to retire but agreed yesterday to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg. The chairmen of the House and Senate subcommittees that oversee the public works budget also are retiring: Sen. Charles H. Smelser, a conservative Democrat who represented Frederick and Carroll counties, and Prince George's Del. Timothy F. Maloney.