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Arundel GOP establishment turns out to back Ron George bid for Senate

When former GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron George announced his candidacy for the state Senate Tuesday, the cream of the Anne Arundel County Republican establishment turned out in force to back him.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, Sen. Ed Reilly, Circuit Court Clerk Robert P. Duckworth and most of the Republicans in the county House delegation joined George at a news conference in front of the former delegate's Main Street Annapolis jewelry store as he announced he would see the District 30 seat held by veteran Democratic Sen. John C. Astle.

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Conspicuous by his absence, however, was Herb McMillan, a Republican who represents the same district in the House of Delegates and who has not ruled out his own bid for the Senate in 2018.

The 61-year-old George, who finished fourth in the four-candidate 2014 gubernatorial primary, promised to fight for conservative principles of fiscal responsibility and good government. He promised he would take a special interest in the redistricting decisions that will be made by the General Assembly elected that year.

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"I want to be there when it comes up again," he said. "I believe we're getting shortchanged.'

George's allies heaped on lavish praise.

"He understands how to get things done. He understands how to work with all constituents," said Schuh.

George denied the gathering of party luminaries three years before the election was intended to crowd McMillan out of the race. He said he had spoken with McMillan before announcing and informed him of his intentions.

"I don't know what Herb's going to do," George said.

McMillan expressed surprise at George's early start.

"The last election was less than a year ago. The more I think about it the more I chuckle," he said. "I think the voters are intelligent enough to realize there are more candidates who will come forward."

McMillan said that for now he will concentrate on his role as delegate.

"I'm going to focus on doing a good job and the decision on what to do next will take care of itself," McMillan said.

Schuh said he made the early endorsement of George because "it is important that we win this race" for a Senate seat the Republicans have narrowly fallen short the last two elections.

"I believe there's only one candidate who can win this race for the Republican Party and that's Ron George," Schuh said.

But the county executive said a contest for the nomination would be welcome.

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"I always want candidates to have a primary because I think it makes them stronger," he said.

Schuh said his endorsement had nothing to do with the fact George supported him in his bitter primary fight against former County Executive Laura Neuman last year while McMillan did not.

"Ron George and I have supported each other in every race we've ever run," Schuh said.

Also attending were two officials of the state Republican Party, Chairwoman Diana Waterman and Executive Director Joe Cluster.

Waterman said her presence didn't mean the state party is backing George.

"We back all of our Republican candidates. At the moment there's only one Republican candidate in the race," she said.

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