Craig Timberg

Democratic Party activist Bill Woodcock yesterday launched his campaign for the House of Delegates, vowing to make a competitive bid for Howard County’s most Republican district.

Woodcock, 30, of Ellicott City, acknowledged his underdog status against a pair of powerful GOP legislators known as “the Bobs” — Del. Robert H. Kittleman and Del. Robert L. Flanagan — who have represented District 14B for a combined 28 years.

But Woodcock tried to use the experience of his rivals against them, suggesting that they are more interested in “political posturing, gamesmanship and division” than in representing the district that includes Ellicott City, western Howard and Columbia’s River Hill village.

“I would have to say, regretfully, that the current delegates have played a major role in creating negativity and divisiveness in Annapolis,” Woodcock said. “I promise to the people today that if elected, I will serve the people first, and my own political agenda dead last.”

In his remarks, he also supported tougher academic standards, gun control, the death penalty and the abolition of user fees at automatic teller machines.

Woodcock, a lifelong county resident and finance administrator for a nonprofit health care group based in Rockville, has been president of Young Democrats of Maryland and vice chairman of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee. He is currently head of the Ellicott City Democratic Club.

Woodcock could hardly have found a more difficult race for his bTC first run at elective office.

Kittleman, 72, the House minority leader, has held his seat since 1982 and is considered a founding father of Howard’s Republican Party. Flanagan, 52, the House minority whip, has held his seat since 1986.

The two County Council districts that overlap with House District 14B also have been held by Republicans since 1990.

Mindful of the conservative strength in his district, Woodcock said he is not a “tax-and-spend” liberal, instead portraying himself as a moderate. He argued for cuts in wasteful spending and said the state should increase last year’s income tax cut.

Woodcock said he has been campaigning aggressively, knocking on 2,500 doors and raising $8,000 — with $1,500 of that coming from his own pocket. The challenge of taking on a Republican-leaning district motivates him, he said.

“I want to get those disaffected voters back in the party,” he said.

More than 100 supporters bought $35 tickets to yesterday’s event.

Those attending included U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, Del. Frank Turner, Del. Shane Pendergrass, county executive candidate James N. Robey, County Council candidate Guy Guzzone and several members of the Howard Democratic Central Committee.

Cardin predicted that a rising Democratic tide in 1998 would give Woodcock a chance against Kittleman and Flanagan in the November election.

“The Democratic program, as articulated by President Clinton, is going to sell very well in this part of Howard County,” said Cardin.

Pub Date: 3/08/98