DeJuliis faults Ehrlich votes with 'extreme' Republicans Criticism marks a change for 2nd District hopeful

August 06, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

After refusing for months to criticize Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., 2nd District Democratic challenger Connie Galiazzo DeJuliis has gone on the attack.

Twice in recent days she has criticized Ehrlich by name, pointing to his support of Medicare cuts and his vote against the minimum-wage increase -- a measure that passed by a 354-72 vote.

The freshman incumbent said he was surprised only that the attacks didn't start sooner.

"She has to go negative," Ehrlich said, contending that DeJuliis trails him badly.

DeJuliis, who formerly represented Dundalk in the House of Delegates, took her message yesterday to Bykota Senior Center in Towson, where she received a mixed reception.

As the elderly ate lunch or played bridge, DeJuliis said the Republican-led Congress has "betrayed" government commitments on health care by advocating cuts that "go too far too fast."

Medicare can be saved from bankruptcy, she said, merely by eliminating waste and fraud instead of cutting billions of dollars in benefits.

One lunch guest who refused to give his name pointed out that waste wasn't eliminated when Democrats controlled Congress, before the 1994 election.

Several others expressed support for DeJuliis, but a few people simply resented the distraction of speechmaking amplified by a sound system during the regular Monday afternoon card games.

"This is our time for playing bridge. This is our place," said an angry Charlotte Danaher, 89.

Said DeJuliis: "I'm here to tell Bob Ehrlich that you can't talk away from your record and you can't walk away from your record."

On Friday, DeJuliis issued a statement saying Ehrlich "voted with the most extreme faction of the Republican Party against an increase in the minimum wage, against tax credits for adopting a child, and against tax deductions for small business."

The harsh words are part of the DeJuliis campaign strategy, common in many congressional races this year,to portray freshman Republicans as extremists callous to the needs of the elderly and the working poor.

Support from both groups is vital to DeJuliis' effort to win the seat that has been held by the GOP since 1984.

Ehrlich defended his votes, saying he refused to bow to political expediency on the final minimum-wage bill vote.

"Raising the minimum wage costs the most marginal workers their jobs," he said, adding that small business backs that stand.

The minimum wage "was never meant to support a family," he added. "It's a way to break into the work force."

As for advocating cuts in Medicare, Ehrlich said, "Seniors are not stupid people." They know the system is going broke and that cuts are needed to save it, Ehrlich said.

"Even the Republican plan saves Medicare for only another decade."

Pub Date: 8/06/96

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