Independent voters can participate in Republican primary...


February 26, 2000

Independent voters can participate in Republican primary

On March 7, for the first time ever, independents will be able to vote in a Maryland Republican primary. We are excited about this, because it opens our primary to the fastest growing segment of our voting population.

Figures from the Maryland board of elections show the number of Independents has been increasing about 10 percent a year since 1994. There are approximately 317,000 independent voters in Maryland.

And frankly, we are going after every single one of them.

I am proud of our members for having the vision and the courage to change our rules and allow independents to vote in our upcoming primary. This is an effort to reach out to voters who could have very easily registered as Democrats.

As a result, independent voters will no longer be second-class citizens in Maryland. Republicans have given them a voice and a chance to participate.

Our goal is to introduce them to Republican candidates in the primary. We hope they will continue to vote Republican in the general election.

With the help of the Maryland board of Elections, each registered Independent will be notified that the Republican primary is open to them. Some will also receive sample Republican ballots.

The Republican Party is also advertising the change through letters like this one, public service announcements and segments on radio and television shows. Our elected officials have also been urged to spread the word.

The message is simple: If you are an Independent voter, this is your chance to make your voice heard in Maryland's Republican presidential primary.

We will welcome you on March 7.

Richard D. Bennett


The writer is chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

Gore seems to be blind to his own `moral blindness'

In describing his GOP foes as "morally blind" last weekend, Al Gore has amply demonstrated that he doesn't understand the meaning of the words ("Gore accuses foes of being `morally blind'," Feb. 21).

Apparently, in Mr. Gore's view, collecting campaign funds from the Chinese and his own White House lawn defense of Bill Clinton's antics with Monica Lewinsky are not examples of "moral blindness."

Edward J. Naumann Jr.


It's the Loyalists blocking the Irish peace process

In the rush to blame the IRA for the latest difficulty in Ireland, many have lost sight of the fact that there was an accord to guide the peace process and bind the parties who signed it ("Stall in Northern Ireland," editorial, Feb. 18).

The only party that refuses to abide by the Belfast Agreement is the one led by David Trimble, that most undeserving of Nobel laureates.

After the release of the Patten Commission recommendations regarding policing in the North, Loyalists had a chance to see the future -- and they didn't like it.

Why should they? If the British implement the report's major recommendations some of the best jobs and pensions will be lost to the Loyalist community.

The solution? Blaming the IRA has always worked in the past, so First Minister Trimble did just that.

The Sun is correct that "parties with a stake in the Good Friday Accord ought not to hand a veto power to the few who don't." Those "few" are the minority represented by Ian Paisley and Mr. Trimble.

And a veto on progress is precisely what they have exercised.

James Gallagher


The writer is national president of the Irish-American Unity Conference.

Save `mercy' for those who drunken drivers hurt

An "attorney/mediator" from Kitty Hawk, N.C., named Ann Sjoerdsma thinks North Carolina justice is defective because its courts and juries are so hard on drunken drivers who kill ("First in flight, but last in mercy," Feb. 20).

Specifically, Ms. Sjoerdsma thinks one good ol' girl from Kitty Hawk -- "a waitress, student and competitive surfer" -- shouldn't have received what amounts to a life sentence for a highway accident.

All the driver did, after all, was overload on margaritas and schnapps, then kill four innocent teen-agers when she ran a red light.

The argument made in the article must be worthwhile, because the Sunday Sun gave it more than half a page of expensive newsprint, but some of us lamebrains just don't get it.

It's true that Maryland's kinder and gentler courts don't take murder, whether committed with cars or firearms, very seriously. But shouldn't North Carolina be entitled to its own approach?

Whatever happened to the sacred concept of diversity?

Peter A. Jay

Havre de Grace

Ann Sjoerdsma thinks North Carolina is being excessively punitive by making examples of the unfortunates who come out of their drunken stupor to find they've "accidentally" wiped out a life, or four.

But what part of their law does she find so hard to understand? Who doesn't know drinking and driving can kill?

Anyone twice convicted who continues to drive while impaired is showing wanton disregard for the law and human life.

Ms. Sjoerdsma wants mercy. But what kind of mercy is the drunken driver showing the rest of the world?

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