First District: Voters of the sprawling district that embraces the Eastern Shore as well as parts of Harford and Anne Arundel counties have been well served by eight-term Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest. He is a stalwart in the shrinking moderate wing of his party, which reflects the libertarian bent of his constituents. He supports embryonic stem cell research and was among the first House Republicans to call for an orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
More important than party affiliation for Mr. Gilchrest, though, is his commitment to the environment - a cause that has often pitted him against GOP leaders. Over 12 years of Republican rule, he has waged valiant battles to block rollbacks of environmental protections, and could make headway on global warming, fuel efficiency and land conservation if the election yields a few more sympathetic votes.
Second District: After two terms, the House is still a bit frustrating for former Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger because it's so hard for one member of the Democratic minority to accomplish anything. But he has found a niche on the Intelligence Committee and spent much of the past year promoting a plan for withdrawing American troops from Iraq to a perimeter, to act as a reserve force. With a bit more seniority, Mr. Ruppersberger's desire to contribute might find other outlets.
Third District: For the Central Maryland House seat being vacated by Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat John P. Sarbanes is a good fit with the district's urban and suburban voters. A health care attorney and the son of retiring U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, he shares the progressive views that have been repeatedly ratified by voters there.
The younger Mr. Sarbanes also has the benefit of years of watching government and politics at close range while operating mostly in the private sector. He is the rare newcomer to politics equipped to take on a leadership role almost immediately.
The nuts-and-bolts work of the state comptroller's office has long been conducted effectively and efficiently. The ideal boss is not a manager so much as a big-picture person. One of the comptroller's most important tasks is to sit as a voting member of the Board of Public Works; the job calls for an independent, skeptical, knowledgeable occupant.
This is why The Sun endorses Peter Franchot, a Democrat who can be reliably found in no one's pocket. When he came to the General Assembly as a delegate from Takoma Park 20 years ago, he was something of a loner and, in the eyes of the barons of the legislature, perhaps even a pest. He's still something of a loner, and though not a pest by any means, it's fair to say he's willing to voice the truth as he sees it, however inconvenient for others that might be. Both qualities recommend him for the post he's seeking.
As chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Franchot has a good understanding of the way the state's finances are put together. He has been a dedicated opponent of the introduction of slot-machine gambling to Maryland and a sharp critic of the games that are often played with revenue estimates at budget time. He's not fond of the sort of corporate loopholes that the outgoing comptroller, William Donald Schaefer, often railed against, and this sets him apart from his opponent, Anne M. McCarthy.
A business school professor, Ms. McCarthy has an appealing personality but unfortunately has lived in the state for only four years, has no political experience, and offers little reason to suppose that she would hold her own in Annapolis.
With the state heading once again toward what may be a period of serious budget deficits, Mr. Franchot is the right candidate for the job of comptroller.