The Eleventh Commandment

April 11, 1994

Shattering the "Eleventh Commandment" which decrees that Republicans shalt not speak ill of other Republicans, Ruthann Aron of Montgomery County has launched her campaign for the U.S. Senate with a withering blast at the presumed GOP front-runner, former Tennessee Sen. William Brock. Her words were so harsh that if Mr. Brock wins the Sept. 13 primary, incumbent Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes would hardly need a speech writer. He could merely quote Ms. Aron.

Ms. Aron has charged that Mr. Brock "is not even a Marylander but he is spending a lot of time, energy and money trying to convince us that he is." She described him as "a registered foreign agent who represents foreign companies and countries to the detriment of the United States." She asked why Marylanders should choose a legislator "fired" by Tennesseans. And she labeled both Mr. Brock and Mr. Sarbanes as "career politicians" who are "poster children for the status quo."

Mr. Brock, at least so far, is staying above the fray to wage an "issues" campaign in which Mr. Sarbanes is attacked only indirectly and Ms. Aron or other GOP contenders are ignored.

Mr. Brock can claim Maryland residency for about eight years, as compared to the 20 years Ms. Aron, a 52-year-old native of New York, has lived in Montgomery County. (She claimed this period covered "all of my adult life," but that would require eliminating her 20s as part of adulthood.) As for Mr. Brock's work on behalf of Mexico and other nations on trade-related matters, this is not considered unusual or unethical in revolving-door Washington. But it can be politically burdensome.

Having hit out so hard at her opponents, Ms. Aron now will have to convince Marylanders that her service on the Montgomery County Planning Board, a non-elective office, plus her career as a businesswoman and lawyer is sufficient to qualify her for the Senate. GOP boilerplate against taxes and spending and regulations will not be enough.

Because Ms. Aron, like Mr. Brock, is wealthy and prepared to put personal funds into her campaign, Maryland Republicans may at last have a spirited primary. Though some feelings will be bruised, this could serve to create the name-recognition any Republican will need to unseat a well-entrenched incumbent like Mr. Sarbanes.

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