Loss for GOP and state

Martin Madden: Minority leader's departure should send a message to Maryland Republicans.

September 21, 2001

IS THERE A place for moderate Republicans in Maryland?

Doesn't seem so. Far-right conservatives have filled the top of the state GOP's ticket in recent elections, with moderates pushed to the sidelines.

Or out of the arena.

One moderate Republican, state Sen. Martin G. Madden, is leaving politics in December to pursue private-sector business interests. It's a loss to the GOP and everyone else who prefers accomplishment to partisan rhetoric.

Mr. Madden would seem an ideal Republican candidate for the state's highest offices.

He's loyal enough to his party to have become Senate minority leader and bipartisan enough to actually get things done in a Democratic-controlled chamber.

He has won high marks from environmentalists and business advocates and was co-chairman of a joint committee on welfare reform. He gets things done.

But getting things done isn't the most important thing in politics - except when we suffer a national crisis. Grandstanding, confronting and pushing the partisan envelope to the edge usually take center stage.

Mr. Madden doesn't play that game. And perhaps that's one reason the private sector is appealing to him.

He could run for governor, some have suggested, if a more-conservative Republican like U.S. Rep. Robert Ehrlich doesn't want the job.

That kind of dismissive attitude toward moderates has hurt the state GOP, which seems baffled by its ineffective presence in Maryland.

The General Assembly will regret the loss of a moderate voice of reason and accomplishment.

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