Three more candidates - all novices - are jumping into the race for the District 2 County Council seat covering east Columbia and Jessup, further complicating an already complex situation.
Democrat David A. Rakes, 69, represents the district now - the only incumbent council member even considering returning - but he says he still hasn't decided whether to seek re-election.
Democrat Calvin Ball, 30, is now joined by Adam Sachs, 42, a senior communications manager at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and a former Long Reach village board member who earlier was a reporter for The Sun in Howard County.
Republican Patrick P. Black, 37, a business analyst who moved to Long Reach from North Carolina two years ago, also has filed for the seat in the heavily Democratic district. Gina Ellrich, 39, of Ellicott City, another Republican, said she also plans to run, though Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the district.
"I've been around politics for a long time both as a journalist and in several jobs in public relations," Sachs said.
A novice as a candidate, Sachs said he plans to keep his full-time job, campaigning after work and on weekends.
A father of two children enrolled at Phelps Luck Elementary School, Sachs said he is no political insider. "That's an advantage. I'm not tied to any special interest group or party machinery."
Black said he is an Air Force veteran who has felt welcome in Columbia.
"Coming from North Carolina and moving to Maryland, I got the feeling of openness and diversity," he said. "That was huge."
Ellrich is married and the mother of three elementary-school-age children, she said. She's done communications and government affairs work for years, she added.
"I have a strong interest in the area," she said. "That, coupled with my business and leadership experience, will give me a lot I can bring to Howard County."
Feted by fellow Democratic executives from Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties, Howard's outgoing County Executive James N. Robey said he raised more than $100,000 for his state Senate bid at a Tuesday night event at Turf Valley.
Robey had a two-tiered reception. Those contributing $1,000 or more got some quality time with the executive in a downstairs room before the main $125-a-ticket event began in a larger ballroom upstairs.
Robey unveiled a big banner advertising his "Team 13" ticket, an alliance with incumbent Dels. Shane E. Pendergrass and Frank S. Turner and County Councilman Guy Guzzone in the heavily Democratic legislative District 13 in which he is running.
Democrat Del. Neil F. Quinter also is seeking re-election in the southeastern county district.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, said the national political atmosphere is different than it was a year ago.
"The mood of this country has changed since Hurricane Katrina," Duncan said. People realize, he said, that "government matters - who our elected officials are. Competence in our leaders matters. Without it, people die."
Robey said he plans to bring the regional perspective that he honed as county executive to Annapolis if he is elected.
"I bring to the table 40 years of serving the public," he said, including his 32-year police career and his two terms as county executive.
Incumbent Republican state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader said the ticket may or may not help Robey.
"Vernon had a ticket," Schrader said, referring to C. Vernon Gray, the Democrat whom Schrader defeated in 2002.
Gun control issue
Howard County Police Chief Wayne Livesay defended his stance on gun control before about 75 people who came to the Howard County Fairgrounds on March 11 to help him launch his bid for the Republican nomination to the western county's District 5 County Council seat.
"We as citizens have the right to keep and bear arms," Livesay said, adding that "for 34 years I have carried a gun. My concerns have been to keep handguns from criminals."
Livesay, 54, who also spoke about his rural youth in a very different Howard County nearly a half-century ago, was trying to defuse criticism from some in the GOP, who consider his past support for gun control laws a deviation from core party values.
Despite that, the career police officer attracted past and present party stars, including former County Executive Charles I. Ecker, former County Councilman Darrel E. Drown, current Council Chairman Christopher J. Merdon, who is running for county executive, and District 5 Councilman Charles C. Feaga.
"He's a person who can listen, with a kindness you wouldn't suspect with police," Feaga told the crowd.
Livesay faces stiff primary competition from Greg Fox of Fulton, who is strongly backed by area Republican state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman. Democrat Donald Dunn of West Friendship also is running.
Honor for Madden
Former Howard state Sen. Martin G. Madden recently received some rare praise for his public service for the environment, though his stance on the fight over a development near Cambridge has drawn criticism lately.
Madden is one of three former state senators to receive a Maryland "First Citizen" award from the state Senate this year. Former Sens. Bernie Fowler, who famously tested water quality in the Patuxent River by wading in each year to try to see his feet, and J. Frank Raley Jr., who helped eliminate slot machines in Southern Maryland, were the other recipients.
But Madden, a moderate Republican who is director of the state's Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission, also has taken some heat over his opposition to a Senate bill to limit development of a 3,200-home golf course resort community planned near the entrance to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge.