Harford State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly says he'll run for U.S. Senate in 1992, contending that incumbent Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski has lost touch with Maryland voters.
Cassilly, now serving his thirdfour-year term, said he will seek the Republican nomination next year to challenge Mikulski, a Baltimore City Democrat expected to seek her second term as senator.
"I've been really upset by the representation we get in the Senate, or the lack of representation, I should say," Cassilly said. "I think we have an incumbent in trouble. I don't think (Mikulski) understands the people in this state."
Mikulski's press spokesman MichaelMorrill said the senator has maintained close ties to her constituents. He noted that Mikulski still lives in Baltimore, commuting daily to work in Washington.
"She is always out and about Maryland listening to voters, hearing their concerns and taking their concerns to the Senate," Morrill said.
The Senate primary in Maryland is scheduled for March 1992. The general election will follow in November. Maryland's other senator, Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes, is not up for re-election until 1994.
Cassilly said Mikulski's votes against militaryaction in the Persian Gulf and the Omnibus Crime Control Bill are examples of why he thinks the incumbent is out of touch with constituents. The crime bill allows local municipalities to receive assets seized from drug dealers.
But Morrill said Mikulski voted for the billwhen it was approved by the Senate last October. "She has consistently voted for crime-control bills," he said.
Cassilly said he expects to make crime and defense spending major issues in the senatorial race.
A Vietnam War veteran who was paralyzed from the waist down from an injury he received during the war, Cassilly said he favors increased defense spending to maintain a strong military. He said he believes Mikulski wants to cut defense spending.
But Morrill said Mikulski has never voted against defense appropriation bills, although she opposes the MX missile, the B-2 bomber and increases in financingfor the Strategic Defense Initiative program.
Cassilly added thathe would target Mikulski's votes against the death penalty and streamlining the judicial appeals system as issues in the campaign.
"Myviewpoints in those areas are the same viewpoints as the average Marylander," the 40-year-old Churchville resident said. "I can identify with them and they can identify more with me.
"If you're going to send someone to Washington D.C., send someone who's going to represent your viewpoints," Cassilly said.
Cassilly said his experience asa prosecutor and preparing budgets for his office, as well as his work on issues concerning veterans and disabled people make him a viable candidate for senator.
If elected, Cassilly, the father of threechildren with his wife, Sally, said he would like to establish a voluntary nationwide medical program for children to guarantee immunizations for debilitating diseases, such as polio. Many poor families cannot afford these immunizations, he said.
Cassilly said he also would focus on budget cuts by trimming budgets for what he calls "luxuryprograms," such as the National Endowment for the Arts.
"We haven't started looking for cuts in this government," Cassilly said, adding that cuts he'd propose would anger some people. . . . But I'm sorry, you've got to make somebody mad and take a stand."
Mikulski, Cassilly said, has angered voters by not taking any stands.
Cassilly is the only Republican to file with the state Board of Elections to run for the Senate so far.
Cassilly said he wanted to file his candidacy early to show that he is a serious candidate.
RepresentativeHelen D. Bentley, R-2nd, whose district includes western Harford County, is said by GOP officials to be considering a run for the Senate seat. Bentley has not filed campaign documents.
Cassilly said he would welcome a challenge from Bentley and other Republicans. He said a strong primary race would strengthen the GOP's stake in state politics.
Among Democrats, B. Emerson Sweatt of Charles County and Scott D. Britt of Prince George's County have filed to run for the seat, according to the elections office.
Mikulski, who has not filed hercandidacy, has raised $490,000 in campaign money as of Jan. 1, according to her latest federal Election Commission report.
She raised $2 million during the primary and general elections in 1986, campaignreports show.
Cassilly said that raising money for his campaign might be an obstacle, particularly before the primary.
Cassilly, who has not named a campaign manager or treasurer, said he plans to puthis campaign into high gear after Labor Day.
Until then, he plansto organize his campaign staff, sponsor fund-raisers and attend community events throughout the state.
If he wins the primary, Cassilly said, he would take a leave of absence from his duties as the county state's attorney during the two months before the general election.
Cassilly received a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona and a law degree from the University of Baltimore.
He has been with the county State's Attorney Office since 1977.