Incumbency triumphant No upsets in Md.: Voters again return all sitting congressmen to Capitol Hill.

November 06, 1996

MARYLANDERS don't like change. That's the message they give every two years in choosing their members of Congress. Only on rare occasions do they toss out an incumbent. This year, voters again opted to stick with the status quo.

That was good news for Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the freshman congressman who was targeted earlier in the year as the most vulnerable in the state delegation. Democrats could not dislodge the ambitious Timonium resident, whose adroit opposition to a public housing program in Baltimore County struck an emotional chord with some eastern Baltimore countians. Voters disregarded or condoned his loyalty to Gingrich ideology in Washington.

Democrat Connie DeJuliis ran hard and received strong labor support, but it was not enough to overcome Mr. Ehrlich's energetic campaign tactics and his emergence as a rising star in the state GOP. It was his Democratic foe who proved highly vulnerable.

Other incumbents coasted to victory, including Republican Wayne Gilchrest in his Eastern Shore-Anne Arundel district; Republican Roscoe Bartlett in his Western Maryland-Carroll County-Howard County district (despite a spirited race from Democrat Stephen Crawford); Democrat Ben Cardin in his city-suburban district, and Democrat Elijah Cummings in his largely urban district. Mr. Cummings, though an incumbent just six months, had no trouble crushing his GOP foe, Kenneth Kondner, in a lopsided Democratic district.

To the south, Connie Morella romped to a sixth term in Montgomery County, where her heretical brand of liberal Republicanism continued to make her the area's most popular politician. Democrat Albert Wynn easily rolled over his nominal GOP foe in his inner-Prince George's district and Democrat Steny Hoyer defeated yet another eager Republican hopeful, state Del. John S. Morgan. Mr. Hoyer's district may get more conservative but the 15-year veteran has a knack for tailoring his voting record to his constituency and delivering the pork.

Barring a major gaffe by one of them, incumbents could continue to hold sway in Maryland. Not only do they have a huge money advantage, but these eight legislators carefully nurture their relationship with constituents. That makes it tough to throw them out of office.

Pub Date: 11/06/96

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