A contested primary serves public better than a...


January 17, 2002

A contested primary serves public better than a coronation

Herbert C. Smith's article "O'Malley should stay home this time" (Jan. 6) is an illustration of the improper advice that infests much of what passes for disinterested political punditry.

The main reasons Mr. Smith gives for advising Mayor Martin O'Malley not to run for governor pertain either to the viability of Mr. O'Malley's own career goals or the specter of "benefit[ing] Republicans." Why would the possible strengthening of Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich be so horrible? Mr. Smith never says; to him, it is an unquestionably bad outcome.

Mr. Smith's shilling makes no pretense to be concerned with gubernatorial issues. Maybe the mayor believes, rightly or wrongly, that Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend would not be a good governor. Maybe he believes issues and policies on taxes, the budget, education, the criminal justice system, drug use and leadership are crucial criteria in deciding whether to run in the gubernatorial race.

Mr. Smith also argues that a primary contest between Mr. O'Malley and Ms. Townsend would be negative and therefore destructive of Democratic chances in the general election.

But contests for party nominations often strengthen the democratic process as well as good candidates. And the unexamined assumption that a coronation is preferable to an O'Malley-Townsend race is simply anti-democratic.

Assuming the Democrats are the better party and that issues are largely irrelevant to a campaign is irresponsible.

Richard E. Vatz


The writer is professor of political communication at Towson University.

O'Malley can beat GOP, and that's what matters

Herbert C. Smith lists several reasons why Mayor Martin O'Malley should not run for governor next year and suggests Mr. O'Malley should clear the way for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to be the Democratic candidate and secure her friendship for Baltimore ("O'Malley should stay home this time," Jan. 6).

Mr. Smith overlooks that Ms. Townsend is a "coat-tail" lieutenant governor who has never won an election on her own. Despite her Kennedy pedigree, her seven years in office and her massive campaign war chest, she has just about zero gubernatorial qualifications.

Even with her name and bankroll, she would be a weak candidate, vulnerable to a pit bull Republican candidate.

Mr. O'Malley can beat Ms. Townsend and probably Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich or any other Republican, and that's what the Democrats should be thinking about.

Grenville B. Whitman


Sen. Daschle is right to block Bush's agenda

The writer of the letter "President must play hardball with stonewalling Democrats" (Jan. 11) seems to be suffering from selective memory loss.

I cannot imagine that the years with Sen. Trent Lott as majority leader stonewalling just about every agenda item of President Clinton's could be easily forgotten, but I always find ways to be surprised.

There is absolutely no reason for Mr. Daschle to play nice with the former governor from Texas. President Bush continually attempts to use "bipartisanship" as an excuse to push through his conservative agenda. Mr. Daschle is doing the right thing by trying to stop such efforts.

It is the critics of Democrats who have begun their campaign of telling half-truths and misrepresentations. I hope Mr. Daschle will not relent.

Mark Brown


Where is Ken Starr now that we need him?

Regarding The Sun's editorial "Investigating Enron" (Jan. 11), yes, indeed, a thorough investigation is needed.

This job calls for someone with the guts and doggedness of Ken Starr.

Bill Long


Bush administration sits idle as our steel industry erodes

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 21,000 steelworkers have lost their jobs since the Bush administration took office in January 2001. Also since the Bush administration took office, 30 million tons of steel have been imported into this country while our steel mills were operating at 63 percent of capacity in December.

How many more steelworkers need to lose their jobs before our U.S. trade laws are enforced?

John T. Cirri


The writer is president of United Steelworkers of America Local 2609.

Publicizing the porn site only aids smut merchant

The Sun's article about the man demanding money to give up an Internet address using Baltimore's name was published in bad judgment ("Web site owner links city to smut," Jan 14).

Just as when acts of vandalism are put in the spotlight by the media and the perpetrators get exactly what they want - attention - The Sun's free advertising will probably be a boon to this porn site.

The bad judgment notwithstanding, Baltimore (and others) are indeed facing a challenge from these cyber-terrorists. Let's see how our lawmakers respond.

James Bauernschmidt

Severna Park

Garrett County resists change, but isn't racist

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