Riley believes his timing right in Senate race

The Baltimore Sun

Judging by his own political theory about Baltimore County voters, Douglas B. Riley was destined to lose in his 2002 bid to be elected county executive.

The way the former Baltimore County Council member figures, every 16 years residents vote for a major political change. In 1958, they threw out the commissioner form of government. In 1974, voters elected a political underdog county executive. In 1990, they voted out the incumbent executive and five of the seven council members.

Four years ago, Riley, a Republican, lost to James T. Smith Jr., who succeeded a fellow Democrat who had served two terms as county executive. This year, Riley hopes he'll benefit from voters' discontent in his campaign for a state Senate seat in the 42nd District, which includes Towson, Lutherville, Ruxton, and Timonium.

He is running against Glenn Torgerson, a first-time candidate, for the party nomination to take on incumbent James Brochin, a one-term Democrat who is unopposed in his primary.

"People were calling for me for help and I all I could do was open my Rolodex and say, 'Try this person or that person,'" said Riley, a lawyer and two-term County Council member. "I made mistakes in my time, but we responded and came up with innovative solutions."

Torgerson, 56, of Carney, is on a leave of absence from the state Department of Transportation, where he had been deputy director in charge of real estate. He was appointed to the state job by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

"I have more experience with the state than the Republican candidate, more government experience than the Democratic candidate and more experience in life than either," said Torgerson, a former real estate broker.

"I think both of my opponents have missed the big issue -- no new taxes," he said. "Anyone can throw money at a problem. But with rising fuel, housing and health care costs, no one can afford higher taxes."

Torgerson, who is married with two grown daughters and four grandchildren, said the BGE "debacle" prompted him to run. Although he's been involved with Republican campaigns and in political clubs for more than a decade, this is the first time Torgerson has run for elected office.

According to campaign finance reports, he had raised about $4,000 and lent his campaign about $14,000, leaving him with about $9,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 1.

Riley, 53, has raised more than $112,000 -- slightly more than Brochin did in the last six months -- and had about $51,000, according to state finance reports. Brochin, a 42-year-old insurance broker, had, as of Sept. 1, more than $220,000 on hand for the general election.

Riley said he was urged to run by GOP leaders but had not agreed to until January because he found several local issues troubling. He was among the community leaders upset by the plans of Towson University to house students off-campus, by plans of the Country Club of Maryland to develop part of its property for new houses and by the conversion of Rodgers Forge Apartments into condominiums.

"You have to be proactive to head these things off," said Riley. "What I'm most interested in is planning."

School overcrowding, traffic congestion and preserving open space are "all part of planning," Riley said.

Riley, who is married with three children, works in an Annapolis law firm.

Riley served on the County Council representing the Towson area from 1990 to 1998. After losing his bid for the county executive seat in 2002, he joined 1,000 Friends of Maryland, an environmental, anti-sprawl organization, and become more active in Boy Scouts leadership.

In the race for the district's three seats in the House of Delegates, the Republican primary includes eight candidates: incumbents Susan L.M. Aumann, a 46-year-old community and party activist from Timonium who has worked as an accountant, and William J. Frank, a 46-year-old hospital fundraiser from Lutherville. Other candidates are: Dilip Paliath, a 35-year-old attorney from Pikesville; Russell J. Pope, a 52-year-old attorney from Towson; Steve Rosasco, a 49-year-old insurance agent from Parkville; Ryan Shafik, a 27-year-old teacher from Towson; Lynn Sklar, a 54-year-old nurse from Towson; and Scott Williams, a 26-year-old sales manager from Cockeysville.

Del. John G. Trueschler, a Republican, is not seeking re-election.

In the Democratic primary, there are four candidates: Andrew Belt, a 36-year-old attorney from Towson; Bernard J. Hayden, a 58-year-old wheelchair van driver from Towson; Stephen W. Lafferty, a 57-year-old government planning official from Towson; and Tracy Miller, a 56-year-old adjunct university professor and student adviser from Towson.

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