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Shank says he's not moving

April 10, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

A prominent Republican is suggesting that Del. Christopher B. Shank pack up and move in order to avoid a primary race against Del. Robert A. McKee that would cost one of them his seat.

But Shank said he intends to stay right where he is in District 2B and take his chances this fall.

Mark D. Thomas, the former chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, e-mailed his suggestion to Republicans Shank and McKee on March 28.

He proposed that Shank move into Hagerstown District 2C, because no Republican has filed to run against incumbent Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

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Thomas said he was not speaking for the Republican Party, although he believes it would help the GOP by preventing the loss of one of them in a primary battle.

"This would be perceived by everyone as a brave act of larger-than-life magnanimity, one which would significantly increase Chris's political stature over the long term and generate tremendous positive publicity for Chris and the party," Thomas wrote.

Thomas, in his e-mail, also urged both McKee and Shank to consider moving.

"Whoever were to move would show some guts and demonstrate a level of statesmanship (a word seldom spoken in Washington County or Maryland) that would be long remembered even after any potential hiatus in your political career," Thomas wrote.

Thomas blamed Democrats for carving up the county's political boundaries without regard to communities of interest in the once-a-decade redistricting process.

Shank said he while he appreciates that Thomas is trying to find a solution to the problem, he has no interest in moving, either personally or politically.

Shank said a move on his part would be perceived by voters as carpetbagging.

"It would be somewhat transparent of me to pick up and move to another district. As I've said from Day One, it's just going to work itself out," Shank said.

About 65 percent of the new District 2B comprises Shank's constituents. The other 35 percent are McKee's constituents.

Shank said it would have been fine for McKee to move back into District 2A because it's a district he currently represents.

McKee continues to say he won't move because he doesn't want to disrupt his family.

McKee said he would like to see Shank move, but he isn't holding out any hope.

"Chris protects John (Donoghue) and John protects Chris, and that's how it's been for four years. At times I've found fault with the fact that Chris has been closer to the resident Democrat than the resident Republican," McKee said.

Donoghue was surprised by the suggestion of a matchup against Shank.

"I find it hard to believe that he would encourage something like that, especially when you have someone in a leadership position down here in the majority party that's working hard and getting things done," he said.

The Washington County Republican Central Committee will not take a formal position on the issue, said Chairwoman Mildred "Mickey" Myers.

Myers said she would like to see one of them move. Candidates have until the July 1 filing deadline to make up their minds.

"It is definitely going to be a loss to the Washington County Republican Party because it's a guarantee that one of them is going to lose. I hate to lose either one of them," Myers said.

Rick Hemphill of the Democratic Central Committee said when candidates move it sends a message that they care more about the office than the people they represent.

"A lot of times, that backfires on them. It's artificial, and voters really don't like artificial," he said.

Democrats still are looking for a candidate to run against the winner of the likely McKee-Shank primary in November, he said.

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