Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Ten vie for District 16 delegate seat

Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee to make its nomination Sept. 11

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The list of contenders for a state legislature seat has grown to 10 since Del. Marilyn R. Goldwater of Bethesda announced her retirement three weeks ago.

The legislative district these candidates hope to represent — District 16 — is no stranger to hyperactive political races. The district encompasses Bethesda, Chevy Chase and parts of neighboring areas.

The county’s Democratic Central Committee chooses on Sept. 11 whom it will nominate for the seat Goldwater held for six full four-year terms. Goldwater’s retirement was official Monday. The committee will select her successor from a crop of familiar locals who have much in common, from professions to political connections.

‘‘District 16 has always had an abundance of great candidates,” said former state delegate Cheryl C. Kagan. ‘‘Is it because of geography?

‘‘Downcounty folks are very focused on politics because they are very focused on D.C.”

Of the contenders hoping to become Goldwater’s successor, nearly all boast political experience or Washington connections, and seven of the 10 are lawyers. Many have tried unsuccessfully in the past to join the state legislature, and some have run national campaigns. Most support universal health care, tax reform and environmental protection.

The competition is fierce, compared with the upcounty’s District 39 delegate race, where two people have filed with the county’s nominating committee. And the race is a political oddity, since candidates have only one month to campaign for support from only 23 voters — the members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

‘‘Despite the temptation and justification to say, ‘We’ve had it with you people,’” candidate Bill Frick said, referring to the multiple contenders, ‘‘[the committee is] not turning people down. They’re not refusing to speak to people.”

The abundance of candidates mirrors District 16 in 2002, when 10 applicants sought the party’s nomination, which ultimately went to Del. Susan C. Lee of Bethesda. Half of the candidates in the 2002 race have entered again now for an Annapolis title.

The familiar faces from that race are Charles F. Chester and County Council aide Regina ‘‘Reggie” Oldak, both of whom ran against Goldwater for the House seat last year; Donald L. Mooers Jr., former congressional candidate and former chief of the District 16 Democratic Club; Karen Kuker-Kihl, precinct chair and the party’s nominee against former Republican County Councilwoman Betty Ann Krahnke in 1998; and L. Mark Winston, a transportation commissioner and former precinct chair.

Newcomers to this campaign are no less well known in local party politics. Charles ‘‘Chuck” J. Butler and Bill Frick are vice presidents of the District 16 Democratic Club. Karyn Strickler is a precinct official who served in 2001 as campaign finance director for U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington. And Lise Van Susteren sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Maryland last year.

Goldwater’s healthcare background is present in two candidates, Hugh F. Hill, III, and Van Susteren. Both are medical doctors.

Whomever garners the party’s nomination on Sept. 11 will be subject to the approval of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). The appointee will serve the remaining three years of Goldwater’s term and be eligible to run for elected office in 2010.

The deadline for candidates to enter the race is Sept. 10, the day before the committee meets to hear candidates’ formal pitches and vote by majority on the nomination. The committee will make Board of Elections nominations that night, and will name a delegate to succeed Sen. Nancy J. King (D-Dist. 39) of Montgomery Village, who accepted a Senate appointment earlier this month.

The central committee has already begun interviewing would-be delegates for the District 16 slot.

‘‘There’s not unanimity,” Milton J. Minneman, spokesman for the Central Committee and District 15 member, said of members’ choices for nominees. ‘‘There’s no favored son.”

The Candidates

Charles ‘‘Chuck” J. Butler, Bethesda

Charles F. Chester, North Bethesda

Bill Frick, Bethesda

Hugh F. Hill, III, Bethesda

Karen Kuker-Kihl, Bethesda

Donald L. Mooers Jr., Bethesda

Regina ‘‘Reggie” Oldak, Bethesda

Karyn Strickler, Bethesda

Lise Van Susteren, Bethesda

L. Mark Winston, Potomac