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Shank upsets Poole in 2B

November 04, 1998

Chris ShankBy LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer




Republican Chris Shank appeared to have upset incumbent Del. D. Bruce Poole, a 12-year veteran of the House of Delegates, according to complete but unofficial returns from Tuesday's general election.

Shank got 4,675 votes to Poole's 4,438 in the race to represent southern Washington County voters in District 2B.

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That's a margin of just 237 votes. So far, the election board has received 392 absentee ballots, which will be counted Thursday morning.

Shank, 26, wasn't ready to declare victory Tuesday night.

"We'll have to bite our nails until Thursday morning," said Shank, who was the legislative aide for the Washington County delegation to the General Assembly.

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Poole, 39, could not be reached for comment.

Shank conducted a vigorous campaign, knocking on more than 7,500 doors.

Gary Little, Shank's key campaign volunteer, said he talked to many people at the polls Tuesday who were supporting Shank.

"He knocked on their door and that made all the difference," Little said.

Poole also ran an aggressive campaign, outspending Shank by a margin of nearly 8-to-1. He estimated he knocked on more than 3,500 doors.

Shank had accused Poole of falling out of touch with voters, especially during the early 1990s when his stint as majority leader aligned him with liberal Democrats in the House.

But since the loss of his leadership position and the narrow 70-vote victory over Republican Rick Wiles in 1994, Poole had become more responsive to his constituents in southern Washington County, political observers said.

Shank hitched his wagon to Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey, who won 60 percent of the vote in Washington County.

He ran on a platform of tax cuts, more money for education and abolishing parole for violent offenders.

Shank had criticized Poole's votes in favor of the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program and for giving needles to heroin addicts in Baltimore and Prince George's County.

Poole accused Shank of distorting his record and described his views as moderate.

Unless the absentee ballots swing the vote in his favor, Poole will become the second victim this election season of feisty, young Republicans.

In the September Republican primary, 15-year Senate veteran John Derr was unseated by Alex Mooney, 27, who went on to win the general election Tuesday.

Poole had no challengers in the primary. Shank easily won the GOP nomination over David M. Russo, 46, and Seth Edward Wilson, 27.

Members of the House of Delegates make $29,700 a year. They are due to get a raise of $1,809 over the next four years.

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