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GOP holds picnic

August 29, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Washington County Republicans weren't complaining that it rained on their annual picnic Wednesday.

Some even joked that the GOP should take credit for the soaking, long-awaited in the face of a serious drought.

"I'm glad to see the rain tonight. Republicans always make good things happen in Washington County," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Veteran lawmakers like Munson joined political hopefuls at the annual picnic, held this year at Smithsburg Community Park. About 250 people huddled under a pavilion to dine on fried chicken and discuss the upcoming elections.

"There is a lot of excitement about this governor's race," said Bob Sweeney, county campaign chairman for Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

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Conservative Washington County Republicans said they are solidly behind the candidate despite his moderate platform that favors slot machines and legalized abortion.

"No candidate can be everything to everybody," said former Hancock Mayor Ralph Wachter. Most importantly, Maryland needs a fiscally responsible governor and Ehrlich fits the bill, he said.

Ehrlich's wife, Kendel, was scheduled to attend the picnic but she had to cancel to recuperate from recent back surgery.

Ehrlich was represented instead by campaign staff member Del. Joseph Getty, R-Carroll.

Getty told the crowd that even though the candidates are in a statistical dead heat right now, the most difficult part of the campaign is yet to come.

"We have to be prepared for an onslaught of mudslinging," he said.

The other race on the lips of picnic-goers was LeRoy Myers' challenge to House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, in the Nov. 5 general election.

Don't write off the Clear Spring Republican, they said.

Myers, a political newcomer who is clearly the underdog against the seven-term delegate, has been spending a lot of time on Taylor's home turf.

"He's starting to get around. His presence is starting to be known," said Charlie Johnson, chair of the Allegany County Republican Central Committee and campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

Organizers said they had thought Taylor might attend the picnic. His campaign bought 10 tickets, they said, producing the $200 check.

If Taylor had attended, he would have been greeted by a large contingent of Myers supporters. Nearly everyone in the room had a Myers sticker or bright yellow T-shirt.

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