Del. Peter Franchot, the Montgomery County lawmaker who handed William Donald Schaefer his first election defeat in more than 50 years in the Democratic primary, last night easily won his bid to become comptroller.
In contrast to the nail-biting primary, Franchot, 58, defeated Republican Anne M. McCarthy, 48, by a wide margin, making good on double-digit poll leads he had maintained throughout his campaign.
In his victory speech last night, Franchot told a crowd of about 350 supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Silver Spring that, as comptroller, he would measure each decision carefully but also be progressive.
"These are not Republican, Democrat or Independent values," he said. "They're Maryland values."
McCarthy had not conceded the race at press time.
The comptroller is the state's chief fiscal officer, responsible for tax collection and revenue estimates. Along with the governor and state treasurer, the comptroller sits on the powerful Board of Public Works.
Schaefer, 85, popularized public works meetings with random outbursts and biting criticisms of the governor, the mayor and anyone else who might have been in his sights.
Franchot and McCarthy pledged to be more subdued than Schaefer and more like Schaefer's predecessor, Louis L. Goldstein, a prudent fiscal operator who served for four decades until his death in 1998.
Franchot, of Montgomery County, spent two decades in the General Assembly. He served on the House Appropriations Committee, developing a familiarity with budgets that he emphasized during the comptroller race.
After trailing in every pre-primary poll, Franchot defeated Schaefer and outgoing Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens in a heated race.
Franchot already has taken positions on several key issues.
He said he opposed the Ehrlich administration's plan to sell the World Trade Center, a half-occupied high-rise building on Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Last night he vowed to fight any effort to bring slot machines to Maryland racetracks.
And he has said he would urge the General Assembly to address the estimated $3 billion long-term gap between projected revenues and future state spending.
Franchot's long public life gave him significant name recognition compared to McCarthy, a business professor, entrepreneur and former University of Baltimore business school dean.
McCarthy had criticized Franchot as too liberal. But Franchot countered that accusation in a last-minute television campaign in the Baltimore area.
Yesterday morning was the first time in the campaign that the two candidates had met face to face, something McCarthy had complained about several times.
It was an accidental encounter at Leisure World, a retirement village in Montgomery County.
He thanked her for avoiding dirty campaigning, and - in a soft jab - she thanked him for avoiding her altogether.
Sun photographer Doug Kapustin and Sun reporter Jill Rosen contributed to this report.