By ABBY BROWNBACK
ANNAPOLIS (Sept. 10, 2010)—There are 54 years separating the youngest and oldest Republican candidates vying to challenge incumbent comptroller Peter Franchot in November.
The oldest, 72-year-old Armand Girard, is a retired high school math teacher from Baltimore. The youngest, 18-year-old Brendan Madigan, is still in high school.
In the middle sits Bill Campbell, 63, who last week snagged an endorsement from Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. Campbell is the former chief financial officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coast Guard and Amtrak.
The Columbia resident said he is running for comptroller because Franchot is unqualified for the position and Maryland is "in worse shape than even the pessimists realize."
If elected, Campbell will work to cut a budget he said has spiked in recent years, but he would do so without affecting funding for education, public safety and transportation.
Among Campbell's other goals are reducing the sales tax, balancing the books of the state employee pension system, and creating sustainable private-sector jobs.
"I don't want Maryland to be a place where my children and grandchildren can't find employment," he said. "We have a very bad business climate, and we need to change that."
Though Ehrlich endorsed Madigan's competition, the Loyola Blakefield High School senior continues to advance his five-point plan—developed, he said, through research into other states' successful policies—for increased transparency in state government, and reduced spending and taxes, among other items.
Ehrlich's support of Campbell, Madigan said, "is a testament to the fact that (I am) a true conservative."
Madigan, of Sparks, worked as the Baltimore County coordinator for Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty and has volunteered with Texas Gov. Rick Perry's re-election campaign.
Madigan writes a Republican blog, GOP Resurgence, but said he is running on Tea Party values.
"I'm committed to principle, to cutting taxes and government spending, to creating jobs, to being an independent voice in Annapolis," he said. "I'm not here to toe the party line."
Girard isn't, either. The former National Guardsman said he would push to implement slot machines—approved by Marylanders in a 2008 referendum—as a creative and dependable source of revenue for the state, one that could fund education and police and fire department pensions, and decrease property taxes.
"There's no reason with that revenue that property taxes need to be so high, especially in Baltimore City," he said. "The burden on the middle class with taxes is a huge burden on people. It drives people out of Maryland."
Girard has served on the Baltimore Republican Central Committee for four years, and has run unsuccessfully for seats in Congress, the House of Delegates and on the Baltimore City Council. But Girard wasn't surprised by Ehrlich's endorsement of Campbell. He's just happy he was able to publicize his ideas about slots.
The winner of the Sept. 14 primary will face Franchot, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the general election.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.