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McKee, Shank will face off

January 24, 2002

McKee, Shank will face off



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

They vowed not to play politics, but two Washington County Republicans had their first disagreement Wednesday over the election redistricting map that pitted them against each other.

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In an interview, Del. Robert A. McKee accused Del. Christopher B. Shank of working behind the scenes to change a map released in December by the governor's advisory committee, which gave each incumbent his district but took most of Shank's constituents away from him.

Gov. Parris Glendening on Jan. 10 released a map that put McKee in Shank's district.

When asked, Shank didn't deny it, saying he believes the new map does a better job of keeping communities of interest together than did the earlier map.

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"These districts don't belong to Chris Shank and Bob McKee. They belong to the people," he said.

McKee disagreed that the map is more fair to voters, noting that it splits the community of Halfway.

Shank downplayed his influence over the plan, saying, "I don't have a line into the governor's office."

"That's a Bill Clinton answer," said McKee.

McKee said Shank persuaded Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman, a Democrat, to use his influence with the governor.

Kauffman said he lobbied on his own initiative to keep Boonsboro in District 2B because that's what the citizens wanted.

Kauffman said he hasn't decided yet who he will support in the election.

Shank said he doesn't relish running against another incumbent, especially one he knows so well.

"Bob's a friend. This is unfortunate it's going to happen," Shank said.

But he was philosophical about the outcome of the election.

"What will be, will be. It's destiny to a certain extent," said Shank, who doesn't plan to file for office until after the legislative session ends in April.

McKee, who has represented residents of Subdistrict 2A since 1995, filed for re-election Friday.

He said he has accepted the fact that his Halfway home is now in Shank's district and has decided not to move because he doesn't want to uproot the 11-year-old girl over whom he has guardianship.

"Her success is more important than serving in public office," he said.

Shank indicated early on that he planned to run for a second term in District 2B, which he currently represents and which now includes Williamsport as well as Boonsboro. He said he would not move.

Despite the squabble over the map, it was business as usual at the Washington County delegation meeting Wednesday.

Lawmakers had a light agenda, having made most of their decisions on legislation last week.

As delegation chairman, McKee put Vice Chairman Shank in charge of arranging a meeting with state mental health officials about complaints from Washington County advocates and mental health providers.

Both men said they don't want to start campaigning until after the session ends in April.

"Knowing Chris, he and I will have cordial relations. We will not allow a possible political campaign to interfere with the work we're here to do," McKee said.

Shank said voters don't want to see the legislative session degenerate into political bickering.

"The campaign is a long way off. Right now, my focus is doing the job that people elected me to do," he said.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said he hopes his colleagues won't be playing politics.

"That's important. The campaign doesn't start until after the session. You run on your record. It's as simple as that," he said.

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