Bobo, Gray, Thomas backed by political club


Former County Executive M. Elizabeth Bobo, County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray and Del. Virginia M. Thomas were among the big winners last night at the Columbia Democratic Club's endorsement rally in Ellicott City.

Ms. Bobo, who has a tough primary fight in the race for a House of Delegates seat in a new district containing most of west Columbia, received 70 votes on the first ballot. She needed 62 to win endorsement. Her competitors, Rosemary Mortimer and Ethel Hill, trailed her with 25 and 21 votes, respectively.

"I would always rather have the club's endorsement than not have it," Ms. Bobo said, "particularly since such a large part of the district is in Columbia. This does not by any means make the race any less hard, but it's a nice place to be."

Mr. Gray, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term on the council and is facing his first competition in eight years, outdistanced former Planning Board Chairwoman Kathryn Mann, 69-47, to win the club's endorsement on the first ballot.

Mr. Gray said the endorsement was "a recognition of the fact that I am a strong Democrat who supports Democratic principles and sponsors Democratic legislation. I am very, very pleased and proud of this endorsement."

Ms. Thomas, a three-term member of the House of Delegates who is challenging incumbent Sen. Thomas M. Yeager for the state Senate in District 13, took her 97-19 endorsement vote in stride. "I'm grateful for the endorsement and I think it is important in terms of Columbia," she said.

Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening won the club's endorsement in the gubernatorial field with 63 of a possible 123 votes on the first ballot with state Sen. Mary H. Boergers following a close second. The big surprise, was that Lt. Gov. Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg received no votes.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and 3rd District Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin also won endorsement easily.

Local candidates scoring on the first ballot were James Mundy, a Glenelg High School teacher who is running for the Senate in District 14, and attorney Andrew Levy and civic activist Carolyn "Casey" Willis, who are running for the two House of Delegates seats in that district.

Former State Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer won endorsement for nomination for the state Senate seat in District 12 over incumbent Nancy Murphy and two other candidates.

Columbia attorney Sue-Ellen Hantman was endorsed for county executive over Highland activist Susan Gray by a 115-13 vote, and Assistant State's Attorney Michael Weal won endorsement over Dario J. Broccolino for state's attorney nomination by an 86-29 margin.

The club also endorsed County Council candidates Charles A. Acquard, George L. Layman and John W. Taylor.

But the club deadlocked after the first ballot on the 4th District council race between James B. Kraft and Mary Lorsung. Mr. Kraft, an attorney, led Ms. Lorsung, aide to Councilman Paul R. Farragut, by only two votes. Ms. Lorsung led on the second and final ballot, but did not win the majority needed for endorsement.

The club was also unable to reach a first-ballot decision in the House of Delegates race in District 13A where six Democrats are running for two nominations. County Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass led after the first ballot with 58 votes, followed closely by activist Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, former club president Wanda Hurt and former Orphans Court Judge Frank Turner. As with the 4th District council race, the club could not reach consensus on this race on the second ballot.

On the second ballot on the 6th District Congressional race it selected Stephen Crawford and, in the A portion of the 12th District House of Delegates race, James Malone and House Majority Leader Kenneth Masters were endorsed.

The club's endorsement in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary means that those candidates will get help from poll workers in September, be included on a sample ballot passed out at the polls and included in a possible newspaper advertisement.

Every eight years, it seems, the Columbia Democratic Club goes wild at this time -- and last night was no exception.

During the 95 one-minute speeches that preceded the balloting, most of more than 230 people sat as if at a church social. There was very little politicking until after the first ballot when everyone milled about looking first for endorsement votes and next for support at the polls.

This year, there were two ballots and the rally ended at 11:40 p.m. In 1986, there were three ballots and the rally ended at 3:15 a.m. The kicker this year, however, is that all 95 candidates received the club's prized membership list.

Later, club members will be doing the campaign drudgery, but on this night, they were stars.

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