Opened a campaign headquarters in Annapolis...


January 20, 1994|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

BILL BROCK opened a campaign headquarters in Annapolis this month. He says he will formally announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate next month.

He's a Tennessean, and used to represent that state in the Senate. That's nothing to brag about, but there's no law against it. You don't have to be born in a state to serve it as senator: 33 of the 100 present senators were born in states other than those they represent. So it's not un-American. But it is un-Maryland.

The seat to which Brock aspires, now occupied by Paul Sarbanes (born in Salisbury, elected from Baltimore), has, with one exception, been held by a native Marylander since 1929. The one exception was Joseph Tydings, and he was certainly Maryland-bred. He was brought to Maryland from North Carolina in time to begin first grade in Aberdeen. Brock didn't get here till after he was elected to Congress and bought a second home in the Maryland suburbs of D.C.

The other Maryland Senate seat, now occupied by Barbara Mikulski (born in and elected from Baltimore), has been held by natives exclusively since the popular election of senators began, 80 years ago.

Brock would have less tradition to overcome had he settled in Virginia (where, in fact, Southern members of Congress are more likely to be found) rather than Maryland. In Virginia both senators were born elsewhere, as was the governor. (Our governor was born in Baltimore.)

Here's an interesting bit of trivia (well, it's not actually interesting, even to me, but that's what trivialists are supposed to say): Of the four states which are represented in the Senate by two non-natives, three border on Maryland: Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The fourth is Wyoming.

If Bill Brock defies the odds as well as tradition and is elected to the Senate from Maryland, he'll be the first person ever popularly elected to the Senate from different states. Two senators represented more than one state in the last century, but in those days senators were selected by state legislatures.

The first was James Shields, U.S. senator from Illinois from 1849 to 1855, from Minnesota from 1858 to 1859 and from Missouri in 1879.

The second was Waitman Thomas Willey. Now this is interesting. Honest. Willey was a lawyer in the western reaches of Virginia in the 1840s and '50s. When Virginia seceded from the Union, the Senate expelled Sen. James Mason. Western Virginians chose Willey to replace him. That was in 1861. That region of Virginia then seceded from Virginia to became West Virginia, and Willey was elected senator from it in 1863.

If Sarbanes beats Brock, he will have his second non-native-born ex-senator victim. He beat Joe Tydings, who served 1965-1971, in the 1976 Democratic primary. He also has a native Maryland senator's scalp on his belt. In '76 he defeated Republican incumbent Sen. J. Glenn Beall Jr., who was born in Cumberland, elected from Frostburg.

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