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Myers challenges Taylor in delegate race

October 28, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Voters in District 1C have the choice of re-electing a legislative veteran who holds the powerful position of House Speaker or a political newcomer who contends he can do a better job representing their interests in Annapolis.

Casper R. Taylor Jr. says voters in Allegany and Washington counties would be wise to send him back to the State House for an eighth term because of his political influence.

"I know this sounds egotistical coming from me. In a situation like this, people look beyond the party lines when it comes to protecting their community and protecting the strength of our region," the Democrat said.

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Taylor cites state investments in Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort, Interstate 68 and Canal Place in Cumberland, Md., among his accomplishments. More than a decade ago, he sponsored legislation that helped bring Citicorp to Hagerstown.

But Republican LeRoy E. Myers Jr., a Clear Spring contractor, said he's talked to voters who are looking for a change in leadership and question what Taylor has done to improve the economy, particularly in the long-depressed Cumberland area.

As the owner of a Clear Spring contracting business, Myers said he is tuned in to the needs of the business community.

"I feel that gives me experience and knowledge how we can attract jobs here," he said.

When it comes to the issues, the two candidates have differing opinions on slot machines.

Taylor supports legalization, but only at racetracks with the approval of voters statewide and in the host jurisdictions, he said.

Myers said he opposes slot machines on both moral and practical grounds.

"When slots come into an area, it impacts families. Broken homes, bankruptcies," he said.

Myers also believes the state won't bring in an estimated $385 million a year from the venture because slots will replace other forms of gambling and create more social problems the state will have to pay for.

Myers views himself as the underdog in the race not only because he is new to politics, but also because he was a virtual unknown in Allegany County, which makes up about 65 percent of the legislative district.

Myers has made more than 70 trips to Allegany County since mid-June, when the Maryland Court of Appeals reshuffled legislative district boundaries and pitted him against Taylor. Until then, he thought he would be running for an unoccupied House seat in Washington County.

"I would've been less of a person if I had backed out because I was running against the speaker of the House," he said.

While Myers has promised not to run a negative campaign, his candidacy has been adopted by an anti-Taylor group in Allegany County called Citizens for Political Reform in Allegany County. The group has a Web site, www.citizens-prevail.org.

Taylor characterized the organization as a small group of people who have tried to distort his record.

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