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Republican committee in search of candidates

October 19, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

WASHINGTON COUNTY

tammyb@herald-mail.com

They want to fill a position or four, so they've placed a want ad.

The Republican Central Committee is out to find candidates for four county offices for which Democratic incumbents had no opposition in 2002. So the Central Committee advertised in The Herald-Mail this week for prospective candidates, hoping to generate interest among the party faithful, according to committee Chairman Richard Hugg.

Because Circuit Court Clerk Dennis J. Weaver, Register of Wills John R. Bloyer II, Sheriff Charles F. Mades and Treasurer Todd L. Hershey have all been unopposed in the past, the committee specifically targeted those offices, Hugg said.

"We thought it unfortunate that we haven't had good Republican candidates for those offices in the past," he said.

As of Oct. 7, there were nearly 6,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in Washington County, according to the county Board of Elections' Web site. In fact, the Republicans have been the majority party in the county since the late 1990s. Why there were no Republican contenders for those offices despite the party's majority is "a good question," Hugg said.

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"I think it takes a special type of commitment to step forward and run," he said. "You're putting yourself out in front of the public. The political process is the kind of a thing that most people sit back and watch and don't participate in."

Several members said this is the first time the committee ever took such a step to recruit candidates. But Philip Baker-Shenk, former committee chairman, said the members have been discussing ways to recruit candidates "ever since the last election cycle."

"We think the two-party system should thrive in Washington County," he said.

"The objective is simply to advise as many people of the opportunities as possible," added Dee Mayberry, president of Antietam Republican Women and a member of the central committee. "I think it's an excellent, innovative idea."

Member Mildred E. "Mickey" Myers said the central committee wants to "offer an interested, qualified candidate" for each county office so voters will have a choice.

"My own personal opinion is I'd like to see all four offices be nonpartisan," Myers said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, she wasn't aware that anyone had responded to the ads. Of the four incumbents in the targeted offices, only Mades has announced he will not seek re-election. Two Republicans, Dan Seiler and Jon Galley, both of Hagerstown, already announced their candidacies for sheriff.

Those who respond will be invited to meet with the central committee's candidate recruitment subcommittee to get information about the campaign process, Hugg said.

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