GOP Senate hopefuls seek an edge on Shore

Eight Republicans jostling to run against Sarbanes

February 18, 2000|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY -- Eight Republican hopefuls for the U.S. Senate took their campaigns last night to the hometown of Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, the four-term Democrat each hopes to challenge next fall.

Striving for recognition just two-and-a-half weeks before voters will select one of them in the GOP primary March 7, the candidates spoke to a crowd of about 100, knowing that the 90-minute forum was being broadcast live on cable television and will soon be available via the Internet.

The event was organized by the GOP central committees of Somerset, Worcester, Wicomico and Dorchester counties. Seven of the eight candidates are veteran campaigners with little past success.

Answering questions in seven areas, they differed slightly on issues such as Social Security and private school vouchers.

Candidate Kenneth Wayman, a former Army captain and foreign service officer who runs an Ellicott City computer software company, acknowledged that the winner of the GOP primary will "have a tough row to hoe," in Maryland, an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

After losing a 1998 bid to replace Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Wayman is counting on an e-mail network to spread his message.

Paul H. Rappaport, a former Howard County police chief, has lost two statewide races, failing in a 1998 bid for attorney general and a 1994 campaign as Ellen R. Sauerbrey's running mate for lieutenant governor. The Sauerbrey-Rappaport ticket nearly won the State House.

The 65-year-old Ellicott City lawyer, who spent 28 years with the Maryland State Police, said he supports privatization of Social Security. He called for smaller government, lower taxes and a stronger military.

Perennial candidate Ross Z. Pierpont, a retired Baltimore surgeon, has run more than a dozen unsuccessful campaigns. Beginning as a Democrat in the 1960s, then switching parties to run for Congress in 1970, Pierpont has campaigned for governor and mayor of Baltimore, as well as the U.S. Senate.

Now, Pierpont said, he is building a campaign around health care reform. "I've worked for 40 years to get the health care system straightened out," he said. "It's worse now that it ever was."

Montgomery County lawyer Robin Ficker touted himself as the only one of the eight to ever hold elective office, having served in Maryland's House of Delegates from 1979 to 1983. Perhaps best known as a fan who never missed a professional basketball game in Washington, the 56-year-old Ficker claims to have shaken hands with 600,000 Marylanders in three years.

Howard D. Greyber, a retired physicist who failed to win the Republican nomination in 1994 and 1998, described himself as a progressive Republican in the tradition of former Maryland Sen. Charles McC. Mathias.

The only fresh face is Kenneth R. Timmerman, 46, a free-lance investigative reporter from Kensington. Timmerman is depending on the Internet to build a base of support and raise the $50,000 he says is necessary to win the primary.

John Stafford, of Laurel, said he opposes taxing Social Security and called for an end to the federal government's involvement in education.

And Rob Sobhani, a teacher at Georgetown University with expertise in the Caspian region of the former Soviet Union, drew big applause when he called for including religion in education.

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