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The comeback kid? Anne Arundel County: Dennis Callahan, ex-Annapolis mayor, returns to the picture.


HANDICAPPERS TRACKING the Annapolis mayoral race for next year have a new horse to add: Former Mayor Dennis M. Callahan has decided to make another run for the office he captured in 1985, before losing to Alfred A. Hopkins in 1989 and in a 1993 rematch. Apparently, Mr. Callahan thinks the third time should be a charm.

By announcing his intention to run, Mr. Callahan has probably killed talk of a proposed charter amendment to hold non-partisan elections for city office. If Mr. Callahan decides to campaign as a Democrat, he would have to assemble an organization and amass enough money to survive a hotly contested primary and general election.

His best chance might be to run as an independent, as he did in 1993. He would be able to avoid the primaries, and save his money and organization for the general, where he improves his chances of winning in a three-person race. Making Annapolis elections non-partisan would just play into his hands.

If they previously supported a non-partisan election, Annapolis aldermen and mayoral candidates Carl O. Snowden and M. Teresa DeGraff are rethinking their positions. Mr. Snowden, who is running for the Democratic nomination, and Ms. DeGraff, who seeks the GOP nod, are unlikely to vote for a change that would give Mr. Callahan a leg up in his effort to revive his political career.

Ironically, in the three-person race of 1993, party labels meant little to voters, who seemed to divide into two camps: for and against Al Hopkins. With Mr. Hopkins retiring, perhaps party affiliation will be important again. Mr. Callahan has not officially announced, but the prospect of vindication has to be a factor. Losing twice to Mr. Hopkins still hurts.

Voters in Maryland's state capital city may think of Mr. Callahan as the flamboyant executive who held grudges and waged vendettas against his opponents, but he can overcome his past if he desires. He is articulate, has natural leadership ability and name-recognition, and can count on a base of support. When he ran unsuccessfully in the 1994 Democratic primary for Anne Arundel County executive, he carried Annapolis. He also claims to have learned some lessons from defeat. If he runs, voters will have to discern that for themselves.

Pub Date: 12/11/96

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