ANNAPOLIS – Politicians must tread carefully when referring to age ina primary because it has the tendency to backfire on the person who raises the issue, said David Paulson, spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party.
Yet, it’s the issue underlying the battle for Tuesday’s District 21 Democratic Senate primary.
“Age is not paramount in most voter’s minds,” Paulson said. “If it’san issue in the voter’s minds, you had better treat it carefully . . .When you go overboard it tends to backfire.”
Incumbent Sen. Arthur Dorman of Beltsville, who’s held the seat for 28 years, is 75. His Democratic challenger, Delegate John Giannetti Jr. ofLaurel is about half his age.
The age difference between the candidates is apparent. Giannetti’ssigns sport his portrait — clean-cut and well-scrubbed — and line Route1 from Laurel to College Park.
“Quite frankly, he is resting on his laurels,” said Giannetti, a Washington lawyer. “He (Dorman) has not been in the community actively ina while.”
Dorman disagreed, saying “age had not slowed” him. The retiredoptometrist pointed out that he sponsored and passed considerably morelegislation than Giannetti had in the House of Delegates.
There are wide differences, too, in their views on issues. Dorman, for example, is pro-choice, while Giannetti has favored banning partial birth abortions.
Dorman is opposed to the Inter-county Connector, proposed to connect Interstate 270 in Montgomery County with Interstate 95 in Prince George’s.He wants more mass transit connecting the Beltway to the University ofMaryland’s College Park campus. Giannetti backs the ICC and favors slotmachines as a potential revenue source for education. They would help thetroubled horse racing industry in Maryland, he said.
Dorman opposes slot machines, which are not allowed in Maryland,arguing they have had a corrupting influence in the past when permittedin Charles County, and because they take money from those with the fewestresources.
The newly redrawn 21st District includes Laurel, College Park,Beltsville, Jessup, Maryland City, Russett and Odenton.
Because there’s no Republican registered to run in the district, the winner of Tuesday’s District 21 primary is the likely seat holder,although a write-in or independent challenge could still occur.