GOP gadfly Pierpont hopes that 13 is charm as he declares bid for Senate

December 08, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

Hoping that 13 is his lucky number, Dr. Ross Z. Pierpont, the North Baltimore gadfly and perennial candidate, is running again.

Dr. Pierpont has run for public office a dozen times since 1966 and lost each and every race. He announced last night his bid for the 1994 Republican U.S. Senate nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes.

The 76-year-old retired surgeon dropped his bomb at the Maryland GOP House-Senate Committee fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, where Republicans hoped to hear former U.S. Labor Secretary William E. Brock say he wanted the Senate nomination.

But for now, the GOP will have to settle for Dr. Pierpont's announcement. The word among Republicans last night was that Mr. Brock was not ready to jump in but was close to announcing creation of an exploratory committee.

Dr. Pierpont dismissed Mr. Brock and as many as eight other hopefuls and potential candidates, saying he has the best name recognition, campaign savvy and knowledge of the state in the bunch.

"I'll go toe-to-toe with Sarbanes and the rest of 'em," Dr. Pierpont said. "I've waited a long good time to see if there was someone who could do it as well as I can. . . . And I don't think there's a person who has a better understanding of the texture of this state than I do."

He's had a lot of experience gaining that understanding.

Dr. Pierpont ran for governor and U.S. Senate as a Democrat in the 1960s, before changing parties in 1970 to run for Congress. He ran again for Senate, then for mayor of Baltimore against William Donald Schaefer, then for governor twice again. Then for Congress three times. Once more for governor in 1990 -- a race in which he nearly beat William S. Shepard, that year's GOP standard-bearer and one of three candidates for the gubernatorial nomination in 1994.

And most recently, Dr. Pierpont was one of 14 Republicans who ran for the 1992 nomination to take a crack at a race against Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland's other Democratic incumbent U.S. senator.

Now, he is turning his sights on Mr. Sarbanes, the third-term senator from Baltimore.

"Paul has earned retirement. He's been there for just about 24 years now and there's no evidence of any accomplishment," he said, referring to Mr. Sarbanes' 22-year career in Congress, including the years 1971-1977 in the House of Representatives.

Touting the "throw-the-rascals-out" line of Ross Perot's United We Stand, America movement -- a non-partisan group to which he belongs -- Dr. Pierpont blames Mr. Sarbanes for the problems facing the nation -- high taxes, the deficit, health care, education and violent crime.

"He's been in the Democratic Congress while this has happened, and I think he has to shoulder that responsibility," he said.

But before he can take on Mr. Sarbanes, he will have plenty of competition in his own party -- with nine months until the GOP primary and several credible possibilities still mulling a decision to weigh in.

"I'm just concerned that we don't have anybody who can do for the head of the ticket what I can do -- which is shore up against the Maryland Democrats, defend our position and help other candidates," Dr. Pierpont said.

"This could be a tremendous Republican year in Maryland, a tremendous watershed year in this party," he said.

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