District 19 could see crowded field of candidates this year
One incumbent, one newcomer announce intentions to seek office, but longer list expected
Although only one candidate has filed as of this week with the state to run for a District 19 seat in the Maryland General Assembly, the district is abuzz with talk that he could be joined by a substantial field of hopefuls.
And that does not include the incumbents, some of whom have not yet committed to seeking re-election.
Only one, state Sen. Mike G. Lenett of Silver Spring, a Democrat, said he will seek a second term in this year's election.
Newcomer Sam Arora of Layhill has filed his intentions with the state Board of Elections to seek a seat in the House.
What the three delegates Benjamin F. Kramer of Derwood, Roger Manno of Silver Spring and Henry B. "Hank" Heller of Leisure World will do is unclear.
Rumors have been circulating that Heller, who has served as a District 19 delegate for 24 years, will retire after this year's 90-day legislative session, which begins today.
There is also talk that Manno could challenge Lenett for the Senate seat and that Kramer, who ran unsuccessfully in a special election last year to fill the District 4 seat left empty on the County Council by the death of Councilman Don Praisner, might again seek a spot on the council.
Manno, who was elected as a delegate for the first time in 2006, said he intends to be in the Legislature during the 2011 session, but he would not specify if he plans to run again for his delegate seat or go up against Lenett.
"I'm completely focused on the session right now and that's what I intend to stay focused on having a good and productive session," he said.
Manno said he does not know when he will announce his plans.
Heller, who has served six terms as delegate, joked that District 19 could see a "cast of hundreds" in this year's primary election.
"There are a lot of people who are out there making noise, but we'll have to see how serious they are," Heller said.
He added he has not decided if he will seek re-election and, like Manno, said he is focusing on this year's legislative session.
"I'm not going to make a decision until after the session," Heller said. "I'm going to see how this year goes [and then] I'll sit down and talk with my family and friends."
He said he has also heard the rumors speculating that he will retire and finds them upsetting.
"I resent the people out there saying I'm not going to run when I haven't even made a decision yet," Heller said.
But he said despite whether he runs, this year's District 19 race is sure to be "interesting."
Kramer could not be reached for comment by Gazette press time Tuesday.
Maryland District 19 Democratic Club officers Thomas M. DeGonia, an Olney resident who ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates in 2006, and Jay Hutchins, a Four Corners resident, said they are considering taking a stab at delegate seats.
Hutchins, who serves as second vice president of the Democratic Cub and is an executive director for the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations, said he will not make any announcements until the spring.
"I am laying the groundwork and waiting to see how things are going to shape up with the incumbents," he said.