Muldowney for Congress in the 6th

November 03, 1994

One thing you can say for Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland's Sixth Congressional District: The Republican incumbent has kept his 1992 campaign promise to hold down government spending even when it imposed pain on his district and his constituents. His critics may not like his opposition to federal aid for snow removal in Western Maryland after the March 1993 blizzard. They may not like his votes against college loans, extended unemployment benefits and defense -- even monies that would have helped Fort Detrick. But his admirers can say he sticks by his word, even if (perhaps fortunately) he is on the losing side on Capitol Hill.

Problems created by the burgeoning suburbs of Howard and Frederick counties and the economic slide of Allegany and Garrett counties don't seem to be atop Mr. Bartlett's agenda. He would rather churn out press releases that echo the ill-informed comments of radio talk show hosts. The Republican ideologue's quixotic campaign to reduce federal spending doesn't serve depressed Western Maryland. Mr. Bartlett is mostly a lonely voice railing at programs supported by the House majority. In the body as a whole and in the state delegation, he wields little influence.

Western Maryland's residents deserve a congressman who reflects their views but is closer to the mainstream. Paul Muldowney, a Washington County Democrat, is such a candidate.

A former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Mr. Muldowney understands that legislators who occupy the political center control the power in Congress. Even as a freshman, we would expect he would take on a greater role in fashioning legislation.

Mr. Muldowney has demonstrated a willingness to stand up to special interests, even to the detriment of his own career. During the battle a decade ago to reform public employee pensions, he offended teacher and public employee unions by working to enact legislation necessary for the financial stability of Maryland. The unions got their revenge on this conservative Democrat by supporting his victorious opponent in 1986.

During the past two years, Mr. Bartlett has garnered some

headlines -- for a few verbal gaffes and for rightly admonishing White House staffers for misuse of military helicopters to play golf. But he seems no closer to making a serious impact in Congress than the day of his upset victory. The district has reason to miss former Rep. Beverly Byron, another conservative Democrat, whose post-Congress career put her on the hard cutting edge of military base closings. Paul Muldowney would be more in the Byron tradition.

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