Mikulski, Liebmann in Senate Sun endorsements: Primary election choices thin on Democratic side, numerous among Republicans.

August 09, 1998

ONLY TWO little-known candidates filed against Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski in the Democratic primary, which isn't surprising given her popularity.

Yet 10 Republicans are campaigning to oppose her in November. It is not an impressive field.

During her 22 years in Congress, Ms. Mikulski has compiled a determinedly liberal record, with an eye on her blue-collar constituencies and shifting public sentiment.

From her seat on the Appropriations Committee, she is a key player on Maryland projects. She also has emerged as a protector of the space program, which is a boon for NASA workers in Greenbelt.

We have no qualms supporting Ms. Mikulski in the Sept. 15 primary. She has been effective for Maryland in the Senate.

Candidates on the Republican side range from novices to hardy perennials. Our endorsement goes to an astute Baltimore lawyer, George Liebmann, who presents thoughtful, conservative positions.

Mr. Liebmann's name may be familiar to many readers. In the 1980s, he submitted memos to Gov. Harry R. Hughes warning of serious problems in Maryland's savings and loan industry. A later report credited Mr. Liebmann with having "sounded alarms which ring true."

Mr. Liebmann is critical of Ms. Mikulski's style, which he describes as sound-bite politics, and her stress on pork-barrel deals.

He has written a detailed paper on the shortfalls of public education, calling for merit pay for teachers and tougher discipline.

He differs markedly from Ms. Mikulski on most issues, mainly on philosophical grounds.

In the general election, Mr. Liebmann is well equipped to engage Ms. Mikulski in policy debates. The Sun endorses George Liebmann and Barbara A. Mikulski in the Sept. 15 primaries.

U.S. Senate

Candidates: Democrats Barbara A. Mikulski, Ann L. Mallory and Kauko H. Kokkonen; Republicans Kenneth Wayman, John Taylor, John Stafford, Thomas Scott, Ross Z. Pierpont, Bradlyn McClanahan, George Liebmann, Howard D. Greyber, Michael Gloth and Barry S. Asbury.

Data: 1994 primary turnout: Democrats, 42%, Republicans, 37%. Salary: $133,600; Term: 6 years

The challenge: The next senator must deal with long-term financing of Social Security; find consensus on handling budget surpluses, campaign finance reform and health care.

Pub Date: 8/09/98

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