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Glendening to select delegate to fill Carroll Co. seat in House


With local Democratic leaders deadlocked over two rivals, Gov. Parris N. Glendening will decide who will fill the House of Delegates seat vacated this month when Richard N. Dixon became state treasurer.

Carroll County Democratic Central Committee members yesterday agreed to send the names of both Cynthia H. Cummings and Ellen Leahy Willis to the governor, after failing to pick a successor to Mr. Dixon in four ballots.

Mr. Dixon, who endorsed David L. Brauning as his successor, was sworn in as state treasurer Feb. 1. Mr. Brauning, a conservative Democrat and businessman from Finksburg, was eliminated after the second ballot yesterday.

"I'll just wait and see what the governor does," Mr. Dixon said, declining to comment further.

The two women, both considered rather liberal by Carroll County standards, also had little to say yesterday after a day of interviews and deliberations with committee members.

The committee process began at 9 a.m. with a 2 1/2 -minute presentation by each of the 11 candidates. Committee members then spoke privately with each candidate for about 20 minutes and voted in public at 3 p.m. yesterday.

"I am gratified that our efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party have been recognized," said Ms. Cummings, 54, of Silver Run, who ran unsuccessfully as the party's state Senate nominee in 1994.

Ms. Willis -- a longtime Democratic activist -- was pleased but less than enthusiastic about yesterday's events. The Westminster resident ran unsuccessfully for a delegate's seat in 1990 and 1994.

"I was really hoping for some sort of resolution," said Ms. Willis, 48.

Mr. Brauning, 58, said he was disappointed -- not for himself but for the party's chances of retaining the seat in 1998. Many of Carroll's conservative Democrats, including Mr. Brauning and Mr. Dixon, felt county residents would not elect a liberal to the seat.

Aside from Mr. Dixon, county voters have not elected a Democrat to the House since William B. Dulany and Wilbur W. Magin in the 1960s.

"Unless you get some crossover, you're not going to get elected," said Mr. Brauning, who noted that 41 percent of Carroll County's voters are registered Democrats. "Liberal Democrats vote for liberal Democrats. If [the Democratic committee] wants to elect some people in Carroll County, they're going to have to change their views and represent the people."

During presentations yesterday, Ms. Cummings, a teacher, and Ms. Willis stressed their lifelong support of the Democratic Party. Both pledged to build the party and work to change the county's view of Democrats.

"I can reverse the tax-and-spend label that has been placed on Democrats," said Ms. Cummings, calling for reduction of middle management in the school system and looking for creative funding ideas, such as a joint police system with Baltimore County for South Carroll.

Ms. Willis spoke about her experience as a small-business owner and as director of business training at Carroll Community College. She also pointed to her experience leading political campaigns and her work for a session with a Democratic legislator in Annapolis.

"I have strong working relationships with existing legislators and a couple of key people in the administration," Ms. Willis said. "I promise to spend the next three years assuring the people of Carroll County that their interests are my interests."

Other county Democrats vying for the seat included Elmer C. Lippy and Richard Will Sr. of Manchester; John Barnes of Millers; Philip R. Deitchman of Sykesville; William Francis of Hampstead; and David Haggerty, David Shaw and David B. Weisgerber Westminster.

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