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Mooney keeps Senate seat

November 06, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Republican Alex X. Mooney held onto his Maryland Senate seat, staving off a hard-fought challenge by Democrat Sue Hecht on Tuesday.

Mooney had 20,746 votes to Hecht's 16,885 votes, according to complete but unofficial results.

Both candidates were gracious on election night, which was a change from the bitter campaigning that had characterized the race.

Mooney thanked Hecht and her supporters for running a strong and vigorous campaign. He said his margin of victory was larger than he expected.

"The voters have sent a clear message. They want someone who's going to balance the state budget without raising taxes," Mooney said.

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Hecht said she enjoyed serving the people of District 3 for eight years in the House of Delegates.

"The voters have decided. It was a wonderful ride," Hecht said.

Hecht said she has not decided what she will do now, but felt confident she will find work. She hasn't ruled out the option of running for public office again.

"Life is going to go on. I'll land on my feet," she said.

The Mooney-Hecht race was the most expensive legislative race in the state, with candidates raising a combined $1.1 million by Oct. 20, the last campaign finance report before the November election.

Mooney and Hecht sparred often throughout the campaign for District 3, which includes the southern half of Frederick County and the southern tip of Washington County.

The bickering continued right up through Election Day, when Hecht's campaign manager accused Mooney's supporters of stealing campaign signs that were put up at polling places overnight.

"It's beyond juvenile. It's behavior unbecoming a state senator," Sue Tuckwell, Hecht's campaign manager, said earlier in the day.

Frederick Police said they had no suspects in the theft of about 50 signs from at least 10 schools.

Earlier in the campaign, Hecht's laptop computer was stolen from her campaign office and her tires were flattened.

Mooney's campaign denied any responsibility.

On the issues, Mooney painted Hecht as a tax-and-spend liberal. He blamed her and other Democrats who control the State House for running up a $1.7 billion budget deficit.

Mooney, 31, voted against all four state budgets when he was in the Senate, which Hecht tried to use as evidence that he didn't vote for important local projects.

Hecht, 54, campaigned on her eight-year record in the House of Delegates of bringing back money for local highway and school projects.

Mooney will be sworn in to a four-year term on Jan. 8.

He 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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