Mikulski elected to 3rd 6-year term She leads state's slate of eight congressional incumbents to victory

U.S. Congress

Election 1998 : Maryland

November 04, 1998|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, an East Baltimore social worker turned Washington deal-maker, was swept to a third six-year term yesterday as the state's entire congressional delegation was returned to office.

Mikulski easily overcame Republican Dr. Ross Z. Pierpont, retired surgeon and perennial candidate who was defeated in what was at least his 15th attempt at public office.

All eight Maryland representatives held fast to their seats, leaving the state with a House delegation evenly split between Republicans and Democrats in an election season that, for federal candidates in Maryland, was most marked by the lack of formidable challengers.

James Gimpel, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, attributed voters' seeming complacency to a threefold advantage held by incumbents: widespread name recognition, the ability to raise money more readily and congressional districts drawn largely to protect their jobs.

"That's no way to monitor electoral accountability," Gimpel said.

President Clinton's sex scandal did not appear to be a factor in any Maryland race, although the topic consumed the nation's capital from mid-August to early last month and will be the subject of congressional hearings beginning this month.

None of the three Democratic lawmakers who strongly defended Clinton against allegations of impeachable offenses made by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr -- Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, Steny H. Hoyer and Albert R. Wynn -- was punished by voters.

Nor did Maryland's three Republicans who called for Clinton to resign -- Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Wayne T. Gilchrest -- suffer at the polls.

Even Rep. Constance A. Morella, a popular Montgomery County Republican who faced her best-financed challenger in years, easily held off Democratic civil rights activist Ralph G. Neas, who had based his campaign on a partisan appeal to the district's strongly Democratic electorate.

Although Morella is a moderate, Neas argued she has become more conservative under the leadership of House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- a contention that he said was proved by her vote to hold impeachment hearings.

Mikulski, a 62-year-old Democrat, addressed themes of security in television ads that blanketed Baltimore, Washington and other areas that serve Marylanders -- job fears, personal safety and the solvency of Social Security. But her most potent message was the one she sent months before the election: She would not be outspent. Even before the start of this year, she raised more than $1.35 million toward a race for which she secured at least $3.4 million.

Pierpont, an 81-year-old conservative who spent $230,000 of his own money for his ad campaign, promoted a German-style, cradle-to-grave health care system that he says would eliminate bureaucrats and lawyers.

The GOP candidate, who has never won a race for public office, also hit Mikulski on her reaction to Clinton's acknowledgment of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky. The senator, Pierpont said, had been hypocritical in not condemning Clinton more sharply and more swiftly, given her history of criticizing Republican officials and military figures accused of sexual misconduct. But the charge did not seem to catch fire.

Republican lawyer Robert B. Ostrom, formerly the chief lawyer for Prince George's County, attacked Hoyer, a veteran Southern Maryland Democrat, for not backing the Republican plan for impeachment hearings. That charge, too, seemed to evaporate as Hoyer, long criticized as being too liberal for Maryland's 5th District, handily won his 10th term in office.

Other races were even less dramatic. Gilchrest, a moderate Republican who has supported campaign-finance reform and greater environmental regulation, defeated Irving Pinder, a state official and former Queenstown town commissioner, to represent the district embracing Annapolis and the Eastern Shore.

In the 2nd District, which includes Harford County and part of Baltimore County, Ehrlich dispatched Democrat Kenneth T. Bosley, a retired Air Force officer and farmer.

Third District Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin won a seventh term in the House, overwhelming retiree Colin Felix Harby, who entered the race on a lark.

The 4th District's Wynn, a Prince George's Democrat, similarly overcame GOP candidate John B. Kimble in a replay of their 1996 race.

Western Maryland's Bartlett, the state's most conservative member of Congress, turned back a challenge by drug counselor Timothy D. McCown in the 6th District.

And Cummings of Baltimore defeated GOP dental technician Kenneth Kondner in the 7th District race.

U.S. House

DISTRICT 1

270 of 270 precincts - 100%

Wayne T. Gilchrest, GOP (i) 130,087 - 69 percent

Irving Pinder, Dem 58,320 - 31 percent

DISTRICT 2

180 of 180 precincts - 100%

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., GOP (i) 140,644 - 69 percent

Kenneth T. Bosley, Dem 62,709 - 31 percent

DISTRICT 3

228 of 228 precincts - 100%

Benjamin L. Cardin, Dem (i) 134,941 - 78 percent

Colin F. Harby, GOP 38,378 - 22 percent

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