FINISHING his fourth six-year term in the Senate -- and his 30th year in the Congress -- Paul S. Sarbanes, 67, seems to have the golden touch at election time. Because of his record of working on behalf of Baltimore's and Maryland's interests, he has earned renomination in the Democratic primary.
Among the six Republican candidates, one stands above the rest for his common-sense approach to government: Paul H. Rappaport. A former Howard County police chief, Mr. Rappaport, 65, ran on the Republican ticket for lieutentant governor in 1994 and attorney general in 1998. He favors affordable health care, a high state of military readiness and eliminating the federal inheritance tax and the "marriage penalty" tax. We endorse his nomination for U.S. Senate.
6th Congressional District
Nearly a decade ago, as he was making his third attempt to win Maryland's 6th District seat in Congress, Roscoe G. Bartlett proclaimed the need for term limits for sitting legislators: two terms and out, he declared.
The feisty Republican still says he favors term limits -- but he's doing nothing about it in seeking a fifth two-year term in the House of Representatives. Like the incumbents he once criticized, the 73-year-old Frederick physiology professor, inventor and farmer wants his fate decided by the voters rather than by legal restriction.
Mr. Bartlett has been virtually unbeatable since his first victory in 1992. On the record, Mr. Bartlett has little to show in seven years except a well-publicized law that bans the sale of pornography in military stores. He was a staunch backer of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America and of President Clinton's impeachment, but Mr. Bartlett has little influence on the House majority leadership.
Mr. Bartlett's quixotic quests, such as a futile court challenge to White House military authority and a move to put Ronald Reagan's visage on Mount Rushmore, do not distinguish his record.
Fortunately, there is a candidate in this Republican primary who can energetically challenge Mr. Bartlett while hewing to the conservative philosophy that finds strong resonance among the district's voters Timothy R. Mayberry, 43, is an experienced campaigner and until recently was treasurer of the state Republican Party. He was the party's nominee for state comptroller in 1994 and lost the 1998 nomination by only eight votes.
He recognizes Mr. Bartlett's ineffectiveness in Congress, calling for a less combative approach and a focus on benefits for economically depressed Western Maryland rather than ideological saber-rattling.
The Boonsboro banking consultant promises to work diligently with other party officials for the good of his district. Mr. Mayberry annoyed Maryland party leaders by challenging the incumbent; he had to step down as party treasurer. But that should not diminish his support by thoughtful GOP voters. The 6th District deserves a fresh look in Congress, and the ultimate imposition of term limits on Mr. Bartlett.
Among the four Democrats vying for the nomination, The Sun favors Donald M. DeArmon, 44, of Frederick, a career congressional staffer with campaign experience and a thoughtful, analytical perspective on major issues.
Other House races
What follows are our recommendations in other House districts with contested primaries:
1st District: State Del. Bennett Bozman is clearly the most tested and qualified Democratic candidate for this seat. The Berlin pharmacist is the House of Delegates' deputy majority whip. He also chairs the Tax and Revenue subcommittee in the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Mr. Bozman would be the most formidable challenger to incumbent Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest since the congressman defeated Tom McMillen in 1992, when the two incumbents vied for the one seat after redistricting.
Mr. Gilchrest is unchallenged in the primary.
2nd District: Three-term incumbent Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
Even though Democrats have lost by wide margins in previous runs against Mr. Ehrlich, four candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination. They are Kenneth T. Bosley, Edward J. Hornzell, Walter Thomas Kuebler and state Del. Jacob J. Mohorovic.
The Democratic campaign has been low-key. As of early February, none of the candidates had even raised $5,000 in campaign funds, which would have required them to file fund-raising reports with the Federal Election Commission.
Mr. Bosley, a retired Air Force officer and farmer, ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Ehrlich two years ago, losing by a substantial margin. Mr. Mohorovic, who represents Dundalk in the Maryland General Assembly, is in his second term and has garnered a number of endorsements from other elected officials. He has been a competent legislator and appears to be more capable than his opponents of assembling an effective general election campaign.
Mr. Mohorovic is the best of the lackluster field. The Sun endorses his candidacy.