ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s District 4 Republican senatorial primary looks more like a football rivalry as Tuesday’s primary gets closer — whatwith the insults, taunts and plenty of scoreboard pointing from incumbentTimothy Ferguson and challenger David Brinkley.
Throw the other challenger, Frederick County Commissioner David Gray,into the fray and it looks like an all-out battle for the Republicannomination.
“I’m going to win,” Ferguson said. “I know I’m going to win when my opponent gets nasty.”
In the district which encompasses Frederick and Carroll Counties,abortion — and who is more “anti” in the anti-abortion movement — hasbecome among the hottest issues.
Ferguson says Brinkley, a member of the Maryland House of Delegatessince 1995, voted against a partial-birth abortion bill in 1996 and tooktoo much time off.
Brinkley, however, says the accusations stray from fact.
“It’s typical that Tim is being reckless and careless with the truth,” Brinkley said. “He hasn’t exposed a damn thing. It is very clear I votedagainst partial-birth abortions and that I’m pro-life.”
He did, however, oppose the partial-birth abortion bill during a procedural hearing, Brinkley said, because it was not ready forpresentation. As for his absences, he said he had emergency surgeryearlier this year as well as a business conference for his financial andestate planning company.
Brinkley has lobbed shots of his own, criticizing Ferguson for hisrole in the Gun Safety Act of 2000, which mandates state-regulatedtraining for people who purchase a gun and ballistics markings forhandguns sold in the state.
Both Brinkley and Ferguson support gun ownership rights.
However, Ferguson was a key player during the Senate debate over theact, making a deal with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.,D-Calvert, and other Democrats to avoid a filibuster by the Senate GOPjust minutes before the vote.
Ferguson crafted three additions to the bill, including one requiringtwo engineers to inspect any handgun for safety before it may be sold inMaryland.
Those additions, Brinkley said, eroded gun ownership rights.
“Tim thought he knew better than the experts,” Brinkley said. “TheSecond Amendment supporters wanted a clean vote. He failed those people.”
Republicans risked having any influence on the bill if theyfilibustered, and they did not have enough votes to prevent the bill frombeing passed, Ferguson said.
Gray, meanwhile, is staying out of the fray.
“Not to be pompous, but I feel I’m above that. I think I’m broader inmy service record than them,” Gray said. “There’s a looming budgetsqueeze in the state and they aren’t even talking about it.”
New estimates show Maryland faces a $1 billion deficit in the nextfiscal year.
While Gray holds similar views on abortion and gun control, he said heis more concerned with growth and education in Western Maryland.
“The whole thing is pretty wide open,” said Bob Wolfing, CarrollCounty Republican Central Committee chairman. “All three have done a lotof good campaigning.”
Redistricting has eliminated Kemptown and Urbana from District 4, two areas that have been strong for Brinkley in the past. Brinkley said thathe does not think the redistricting will hurt him in the primary, though.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Democrat Timothy Schlauch, a Westminister businessman with no prior political experience, for theseat.
“The only polls I do are knocking on front doors and getting a feelfor what people want,” Ferguson said. “Brinkley’s supporters need to getused to the fact that David shouldn’t have run.”