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Three House members back Coolahan for county executive


Hampered by a lack of money and organization, John C. Coolahan's campaign for Baltimore County executive got a boost this week when three legislators in his southwestern county base endorsed him for the Democratic primary Sept. 13.

Dels. Thomas E. Dewberry, Kenneth H. Masters and Louis P. Morseberger, running for re-election from two new legislative districts, are supporting Mr. Coolahan and Stephen G. "Sam" Moxley, who is running for County Council.

It's an alliance designed to help all the partners, according to the participants.

"I believe it will solidify my home base, " Mr. Coolahan said. Mr. Masters said, "It's a connection that works for us politically. We're all grown out of the Coolahan organization."

The deal gives Mr. Coolahan, a former state senator, renewed exposure in his home base, which has been split among several legislative districts since the 1990 census. He needs that exposure because he was a District Court judge and out of the political limelight for five years before he retired in May to run for executive. He ran once before for county executive, finishing second in the 1978 primary behind Donald P. Hutchinson.

Mr. Coolahan doesn't have the money to match his better-financed Democratic rivals in television and radio advertising, and he doesn't have the union and political endorsements that have propelled one opponent into the lead.

Holding the lead is Councilman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III of Cockeysville, who plans to begin his television advertising next month and has campaign volunteers from several public employee unions that have endorsed him. County Councilman Melvin G. Mintz of Pikesville already has begun his television ads.

In contrast, Mr. Coolahan said he spends three mornings a week holding up signs at busy intersections, mostly on the county's strategically vital east side.

The southwestern endorsement arrangement particularly will aid Mr. Moxley, 35, a 12-year party Central Committee member running for public office for the first time. He is in a difficult primary race against George Abendschoen, 59, who nearly won the Democratic nomination for council in 1990 and has since worked for Republican Executive Roger B. Hayden.

The delegates themselves feel they will benefit from Mr. Coolahan's popularity in Halethorpe, Arbutus and Lansdowne as they campaign on sometimes unfamiliar turf in their new districts.

Mr. Dewberry said the benefits "will be about even" to all the participants. He is running in single-delegate District 47B, while Mr. Masters and Mr. Morseberger are in District 12A, where there are two seats.

"John is well-liked in our end of the county," Mr. Dewberry said.

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