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Myers upsets Taylor

November 06, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Clear Spring contractor LeRoy Myers appeared to unseat one of the most powerful lawmakers in the state, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., in Tuesday's general election.

Myers had 5,462 votes to Taylor's 5,323 votes, according to complete but unofficial results in District 1C Tuesday.

Myers said he would not declare victory until absentee ballots are counted Thursday. As of Tuesday, 478 absentee ballots for that district had been returned to election offices.

"I didn't think we'd do this well. We knew we had to get every single vote anywhere we were at," Myers said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

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In his first-ever political campaign, Myers said he worked tirelessly to make himself known. He made dozens of trips to Taylor's home base in Cumberland to meet people.

Myers only won 39 percent of the vote in Allegany County, but his strong showing in Washington County, where he took 70.5 percent of the vote, put him ahead.

Taylor, who was seeking an eighth term in the Maryland House of Delegates, did not return phone calls Tuesday.

Taylor has been in the legislature for 28 years and has been House speaker for nine years. If absentee ballots confirm Taylor's defeat, the House of Delegates will elect a new speaker in January. It's unlikely that person will be from Western Maryland.

Myers did not set out to run against Taylor. Originally, Myers thought he would be seeking an open seat, but his plans were changed when the Maryland courts redrew the legislative districts this summer.

A Republican, Myers campaigned on the notion that Taylor's views do not reflect those of the conservative district.

Myers took positions against legalizing slot machines and against more gun control regulations.

Myers also argued that Taylor has not done enough to bring jobs and economic development to far Western Maryland.

Taylor, 67, had asserted that local residents would benefit from his power in the legislature.

Taylor spent the morning visiting Washington County polling places in Hancock, Clear Spring and Big Pool before heading back to his home county of Allegany.

Likewise, Myers and his supporters were out generating support right up until the polls closed. He watched the results come in at a party hosted by John Barr, his campaign chairman and brother-in-law.

Myers, 51, is the owner of his family contracting business, Myers Building Systems Inc.

Lawmakers will make an annual salary of $34,500 in 2003. The pay will increase by $3,000 a year in each of the following three years, reaching $43,500 in 2006.

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