The Republican Party in Maryland has been wandering in the wilderness in recent statewide elections. Republican voters have been offered in their primaries such a meager choice of Senate candidates that they have ended up nominating, almost by default, a string of Washington suburbanites more oriented to the nation's capital than to the state. As a result, Democrats have regularly won the general election with ease.
This year for a change, in addition to the usual Washington candidates and the traditional fringe candidates, three Republican office holders with years of experience in government and politics and with good reputations among their peers and constituents are running: Del. John J. Bishop and Del. Martha S. Klima, from the same central Baltimore County legislative district, and Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly.
We endorse Mr. Cassilly. His views on many issues are more conservative than ours. In part this reflects his law enforcement background and his county's general conservatism. We do not believe he would or should compromise his basic philosophy, but we believe he would temper his conservatism to reflect his new duties and new constituency. As a participant in drafting state legislation on law enforcement issues, he has shown an understanding of the need for compromise.
Mr. Cassilly is an internationalist, a believer in continuing to maintain an adequate defense in the new world environment and a non-protectionist regarding trade. All this we applaud. He wants to cut taxes, which may not be the best prescription for an attack on the national debt, but at least he wants targeted economic-growth cuts, not the broad "middle class" tax cut so many candidates of both parties are demagogueing for this year. On health care, Mr. Cassilly does not seem to know exactly what he wants, but he knows precisely what he does not want: "I've spent 20 years dealing with the Veterans Administration, and I know the problems of federally managed health care."
Mr. Cassilly has been involved with the VA because he was injured while on military duty in Vietnam. He is confined to a wheelchair. This has not stopped him from a full, active life; his career accomplishments are such that Harford voters have twice re-elected him state's attorney.
He is a thoughtful, well-informed man who has taken his candidacy seriously enough to devote months to campaigning and to educating himself about issues not involved in his day-to-day county responsibilities. We believe he is the best of a good Republican field and is well qualified to give Sen. Barbara Mikulski, whom we endorse for the Democratic primary, a stiff, substantive challenge in the fall. What voters deserve is a campaign that offers enlightenment and clear choices.