U.S. Rep. Beverly B. Byron, D-6th, has run in six primary elections and won each handily.
Her name recognition is high in Western Maryland, where she is the fourth Byron to represent the district, and her campaign coffers hold enough money to wage an aggressive campaign.
But she's not taking anything for granted. And two Democratic party leaders in Carroll say that's a smart move.
Byron's challenger in the March 3 primary is state Del. Thomas H. Hattery, D-Frederick.
With nine years of legislative experience, Hattery is a more credible challenger than Byron has faced in past primaries, said Gregory L. Pecoraro, chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee.
"He's making the most aggressive and credible effort. I'm not suggesting she's running scared, but I think she takes Tom's efforts seriously," Pecoraro said, adding he has noticed an effort on Byron'spart to campaign and raise money in the county.
Bernie Jones, president of the Carroll County Democratic Club, said, "In today's market, no one is out of it (the race)."
The winning candidate will be one who can propose projects to help the district, he said. The winner will have "foresight," Jones said.
"It seems there's a segment of people who want change," he said.
In the 1990 primary, Byron received 66 percent of the Democratic vote cast -- the lowest percentageof her six primaries. Her challenger was Anthony P. Puca, a Montgomery County businessman running against her for the second time.
In the 1988 primary, with Puca as her only Democratic opponent, Byron received 81 percent of the vote.
Asked if this primary would be tougher than others, she said, "All challenges are tough.
Her opponenthas criticized her for not debating him. She said she has not avoided him because she has appeared at various candidate forums with Hattery and the three Republican candidates. Hattery said he wants to debate her one-on-one.
"Each and every election cycle has a different flavor," said Byron, 59.
The "flavor" of this election comes from voters who are worried about the economy, she said.
"People are frustrated. They're scared. They're concerned. They think no one cares,that Washington has let them down," Byron said.
How does she answer people who say Congress has forgotten them?
"I say I'm not all of Congress. I'm the person who represents the 6th District. I can say, 'I do care, always have, always will,' " Byron said.
The congresswoman, who was elected in 1978 after her husband, Goodloe -- who held the position for seven years -- died of a heart attack, said she should be re-elected because she has "a good grasp and understanding" of residents' concerns.
Herb Smith, a political science professor at Western Maryland College, said Byron's response to constituents' problems is quick.
"She works very hard. She's in the district a lot," he said.
As a seven-term veteran, she has the pull to try to bring more jobs to the district, Byron said. The district "would not get that with a freshman congressman," she added.
Byron said she helped bring a new federal prison to Cumberland, Allegany County. The project should bring 1,000 jobs to a county where the unemployment rate was 12.4 percent in December, compared to a 6.8 percent jobless rate for the month statewide.
Byron is a member of the House Armed Services Committee andchairwoman of its Subcommittee on Military Personnel and Compensation. She is involved in efforts to decide how to use"the peace dividend" -- the savings from reductions in the country'smilitary force.
Following are ratings Byron has received from various interest groups:
* Congressional Quarterly reported that in 1991 Byron voted to support President George Bush in 51 percent of 111recorded votes on which Bush took a position. She opposed him on 49 percent of the votes.
* American's for Democratic Action, a liberal public policy organization that has monitored voting records since 1947, reported in January that Byron voted with ADA 25 percent of thetime.
* Maryland Business for Responsive Government averaged 1989-1990 ratings of four national business organizations and found that Byron voted to support business issues 67 percent of the time.
* The AFL-CIO said Byron voted for labor issues 38 percent of the time in 1989-1990.