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Muldowney gets rematch

October 29, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Less than two months after losing to Del. John P. Donoghue in the Democratic primary, Paul D. Muldowney will get a chance to square off against him in a rematch.

Muldowney filed papers in Annapolis on Wednesday to run as a write-in candidate for the delegate seat in District 2C, which roughly comprises Hagerstown.

Muldowney, who represented southern Washington County in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said he thinks it is important to give voters a choice in the district, where Donoghue faces no Republican opposition.

"We want to give voters a no-nonsense, common-sense, independent choice," Muldowney said. "There seems to be a lot of sentiment out there to do this."

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Donoghue dismissed Muldowney's effort, pointing to his 11-percentage-point victory in the September primary.

"The ex-delegate has lost five elections in the last 12 years. Every perennial candidate has the right to run a write-in campaign," he said.

Muldowney said the election on Tuesday will be different, however, because Republicans and Independents, who were ineligible to cast ballots in the Democratic primary, will be voting.

Muldowney said he historically has had trouble getting through the Democratic primary because of the liberal wing of the party.

"This general election broadens my base considerably," he said.

This is not the first time Muldowney has run a write-in campaign after losing a primary. He drew about a third of the vote in a three-person general election race in 1986 after Del. D. Bruce Poole beat him in the Democratic primary.

That showing bolsters Muldowney because he said the voting booths in those days made it much more difficult to cast a write-in vote.

But unlike 1986, when he mounted a sophisticated, weeks-long write-in campaign, Muldowney will have less than a week to get his voters to the polls. He said he plans extensive newspaper advertising that will graphically demonstrate how to case a write-in vote.

Muldowney said he also is confident because voters are fed up with a political culture "that makes Annapolis look more and more like Washington, D.C., every day."

Muldowney said voters are turned off by candidates who raise thousands of dollars from special interests. Donoghue has been an enthusiastic participant in that system, he said.

Citing campaign finance reports that show the bulk of Donoghue's $39,724 in contributions have come from doctors, health-care businesses and political action committees that have interests before Donoghue's health insurance subcommittee, Muldowney said his opponent has a conflict of interest.

Muldowney also criticized Donoghue for receiving a contribution from House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, saying the money obligates Donoghue to the party leadership.

Donoghue, who is seeking a third term in the General Assembly, flatly denied both charges.

"There is no conflict of interest. Every contribution I've received has been legitimate," he said. "I am beholden to no one."

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