Winds of change in Congress buffet Md. delegation

September 20, 1992|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The winds of change that are sweeping through the House and Senate are also buffeting Maryland's congressional delegation.

The arrival of the state's eight representatives and two senators on Capitol Hill in January will mark the end of a political dynasty, the election of a new African-American lawmaker and a choice between two congressmen to represent the 1st District.

Those are the definite changes. And there's the possibility of another.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Prince George's County faces a battle against GOP challenger Larry Hogan Jr. in the newly drawn and more conservative 5th District.

Together with a large chunk of Mr. Hoyer's home county, the district includes parts of Anne Arundel and the three Southern Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's.

The remaining four House members, Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin, Kweisi Mfume, Helen Delich Bentley and Constance A. Morella, are expected to retain their seats.

All four survived congressional redistricting last fall with the bulk of their current districts intact. They also are raising and spending far more money than their little-known opponents.

At the same time, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a liberal Baltimore Democrat, is expected to easily win a second six-year term.

Political analysts are calling it the safest Senate seat in the country. Polls show her with a wide lead over conservative GOP challenger Alan L. Keyes of Montgomery County, a former United Nations official who lost a 1988 Senate bid against Maryland's other Democratic senator, Paul S. Sarbanes.

Mr. Keyes was hurt by news reports he is collecting $8,500 per month in salary from his campaign account.

After nearly 50 years on the 6th District congressional ballot in Western Maryland, the Byron name will be absent this November.

Rep. Beverly B. Byron of Frederick, dean of the state's congressional delegation and a top member of the Armed Services Committee, was defeated by state Del. Tom Hattery of Mount Airy in the Democratic primary in March. Mrs. Byron, elected in 1978 to the seat held by her husband, mother-in-law and father-in-law before her, blamed anti-incumbent sentiment for her loss.

She was the first member of Congress defeated in a primary this year.

But others in the district, including supporters, said she took the seat for granted and failed to mount an effective campaign.

Some Democrats said her conservative views -- an anti-abortion stand and opposition to increasing the minimum wage -- were out of touch with her district.

Organized labor is working hard to ensure a victory by Mr. Hattery, who faces GOP nominee Roscoe Bartlett, a Frederick engineer. Still, Mr. Bartlett can breathe a little easier because the 6th District is the only congressional district in the state where Republicans outnumber Democrats, although only by a few hundred voters. It should offer him a boost on Nov. 3.

Nov. 3 will also see the election of a black congressman to represent some of Maryland's Washington suburbs. The large increase in the black population of Prince George's County required the creation of a majority-black district under the federal Voting Rights Act.

State lawmakers carved the new district from parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties last fall as part of the once-a-decade congressional redistricting.

Two black candidates, Democrat Albert R. Wynn, a state delegate, and Republican Michele Dyson, the owner of a Silver Spring computer consulting firm, are vying to represent the new 4th Congressional District.

Both Mr. Hattery and Mr. Wynn are the favored candidates, owing to their state legislative constituencies and powerful campaign war chests. Should they triumph, they will bring to Congress legislative experience, like many other congressional candidates throughout the nation.

Congressional redistricting has also pitted two congressmen against each other: Tom McMillen, an Anne Arundel Democrat, and Wayne T. Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore Republican.

The new 1st District stretches from Curtis Bay in Baltimore to Crisfield on the lowest reaches of the Eastern Shore.

Fifty-seven percent of the district is on the Shore, which gives an advantage to Mr. Gilchrest, a freshman lawmaker who defeated scandal-tainted Rep. Roy Dyson in 1990. Still, Mr. McMillen is running hard, raising nearly six times as much money as his opponent and picking up support from the Shore's Democratic leaders.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hoyer is trying to convince Southern Maryland that as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, fourth in line to the House Speaker, and a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, he will be better able to look after the 5th District's interests, particularly the federal defense and civilian agencies that dot the region.

To drive this point home even further, the congressman has switched from the Appropriations subcommittee on the District of Columbia to one that deals with military construction.

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