The Sun's Endorsements

October 25, 1992

The Sun makes the following recommendations for the Nov. 3 general election.As was explained previously,we have not endorsed a presidential candidate in the last two elections and will not do so this year.In the presidential race,voters have far more information than they do in any other political contest.

In addition to the congressional elections discussed below,voters should take care to cast their ballots in favor of Question 6,the abortion referendum. A vote For this question would keep abortion legal in the early stages of pregnancy and would add to Maryland law a parental-notification requirement.

Senate

Both Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and her opponent, Alan L. Keyes, are polar opposites in the great game of American politics.

Ms. Mikulski, a Baltimore Democrat, is finishing her first Senate term after a long record as a community activist and a member of the City Council and the House of Representatives. Mr. Keyes, her Republican opponent, is not quite a political neophyte -- he ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Paul Sarbanes in 1988 -- but he is essentially an intellectual gadfly on his party's right flank.

In a relatively short time, Ms. Mikulski has emerged onto the national political stage, speaking out for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and leading the drive to elect more women to Congress.

Still, Marylanders are not interested in sending a symbol to represent them on Capitol Hill. They want an effective legislator, a vigorous advocate of Maryland's interests in Washington and a political leader with constructive impact on this state's politics and national affairs.

On all of these scores, Ms. Mikulski gets fairly good marks, and Mr. Keyes fails miserably. Marylanders should vote for Barbara Mikulski once again. Mr. Keyes may have a brilliant future in public affairs. But that future does not lie in the Senate and probably not in Maryland politics.

He is an original thinker, an articulate exponent of conservative political theories and a man of valuable experience in education, advocacy and the diplomatic service. He is not an adept candidate for elective office, nor is there evidence he would be effective if elected. He is too much the maverick. His roots in Maryland are shallow.

Ms. Mikulski, in contrast, is a gritty politician who quickly secured a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee where she has jurisdiction over the space program and housing and urban affairs matters. Her record merits voter approval. Far more than her colleague, Mr. Sarbanes, she has worked hard for the state's interests.

We have some misgivings about Ms. Mikulski. She is more thoughtful about programs to fill social and economic needs than about ways to pay for them. Her shrill liberalism is at times out of sync with her statewide constituency. Her protectionist views may please organized labor but hardly fit with Maryland's maritime traditions. She too often plays to the crowd instead of making tough, unpopular political choices. Yet she is a skillful, activist legislator whose clout in the Senate is on the rise. The Sun urges her re-election.

1st District

A difficult choice awaits voters in this district: two competent incumbent congressmen, Democrat Tom McMillen and Republican Wayne Gilchrest, agree on issues more than they differ. Yet from our perspective, Mr. Gilchrest is the better candidate to represent the people of the Eastern Shore, Anne Arundel County and South Baltimore who comprise the new 1st District.

At a time when the nation seeks to depart from politics as usual, Mr. Gilchrest offers the better hope for change on Capitol Hill. After one term, the former high school teacher has shown himself to be unorthodox and quietly bold. Though he has voted conservatively on spending issues and crime, he has not been afraid to buck either popular sentiment or the GOP party line by supporting abortion rights, gun control and wetlands protection. He has won support from both business and environmental leaders, an unusual happening in politics.

Mr. McMillen, to his credit, knows how to walk the corridors of power. His seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he can put his acumen as a wealthy businessman to good use, is an asset for Maryland. But Mr. McMillen's early lack of interest in representing the Eastern Shore raises questions about how well he understands the needs of working people on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay. Mr. Gilchrest, who has lived a modest life and who has known his share of financial troubles, is more representative of the district.

A vote for Mr. Gilchrest entails a certain sacrifice. Mr. McMillen has connections in Washington that sometimes prove useful in getting things done, while Mr. Gilchrest is still a junior congressman with little influence. But his lack of tenure is a minor point, especially if Congress ends up with 100 to 150 new members.

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