Taking on two incumbent congressmen and unfamiliar territory in a grass-roots campaign, Republican Robert P. Duckworth entered the state's 1st congressional district race yesterday.
"We will launch a campaign right here to stop the abuses heaped upon us in the form of special privileges, pork barrel legislation, midnight pay raises, fixed parking tickets, check-bouncing schemes, free meal scams and repressive taxes that are driving common Americans into the ground," said Duckworth, the 1990 congressional candidate who lost to Representative Tom McMillen, D-4th.
The 51-year-old former head of the Crofton Civic Association saidMcMillen, also running in the newly configured 1st District, and Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican currently representing the majority of that district, have lost touch with their constituents.
"These gentlemen have a mutual problem," said Duckworth, a retired urban affairs analyst with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. "They have lost sight of their mission to representthe people and should retire."
Duckworth supporters criticized McMillen's Political Action Committee contributions, which make the congressman a top fund-raiser among the state's congressional delegation.
Duckworth vowed to win an election with volunteers, not money. His campaign manager, Dan Grimes, said he has raised about $15,000 so far.
Ed Bach, a Severna Park resident and Duckworth supporter, listed that strategy among the candidate's most appealing attributes.
"He's not in anybody's pocket," Bach said. "He's his own man."
The candidate described himself as more conservative than Gilchrest, who he said has failed to represent his constituency in non-tidal wetlands regulations and defense and fiscal matters.
Duckworth assertedthat families and small-business ownershave been overburdened by taxes. He pledged to work for term limitations, a balanced budget amendment and free enterprise policies.
"I like to think of myself as anordinary citizen who can change Congress to bring it back to the citizen," said Duckworth.
Although Duckworth has the support of county Republicans, he remains largely unknown on the Eastern Shore. The new 1st District, created by recent congressional redistricting, includes nine Eastern Shore counties, parts of the county and Baltimore.
Duckworth faces a March 3 primary against Gilchrest and Lisa G. Renshaw, a conservative county businesswoman.
McMillen faces challenges in the Democratic primary from Delegates John C. Astle of Annapolis and Samuel Q. Johnson III of Salisbury; Annapolis Alderman Ellen Moyer; James Brown, a Caroline County drug treatment worker; and Tony Mamet, a retired Ocean City auctioneer.
Mary Rose, the county's Republican clerk of courts, said the GOP asked Duckworth to run in 1990 against overwhelming odds, knowing he had the stamina to run a secondrace. His first race -- in which he was outspent $340,000 to $42,000and garnered more than 41 percent of the general election vote -- served the purpose of damaging McMillen's candidacy, Rose said.
Delegate John G. Gary, R-Millersville, stood with Duckworth as he filed his candidacy at the state Board of Elections, urging volunteers to support what he termed one of the primary's toughest campaigns.