Run for Congress to begin at rally

Ruppersberger gathers key supporters in bid for 2nd District seat

Hopes to replace Ehrlich

April 29, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger is expected to officially announce his run for Congress alongside high-profile supporters at an east-side rally this morning.

At the start of a day of events throughout the district, Ruppersberger will be joined by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

The rally, at Edgemere Elementary School in Dundalk, marks the first major event in what looks to be a tough battle to replace Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in the 2nd District. Ehrlich is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

The district, which runs from Randallstown through Timonium to the east side of the county and also incorporates parts of Baltimore City and Anne Arundel and Harford counties, was redrawn this year to be more favorable to Democratic candidates. But Republicans believe they can win there.

"I'm extremely excited," Ruppersberger, 56, said Friday. "The federal government has the most money, and there are a lot of needs we have in our communities. I would like to be able with my experience of knowing what the local government knows ... to bring the money back for our schools and our police and our roads."

With the balance of power in the House of Representatives hinging on a few seats, this race is expected to attract the attention of, and funding from, the national parties.

Likely Republican candidates for the seat include former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley and Del. James F. Ports Jr. of Perry Hall. Ehrlich has been talking to both in hopes of avoiding a Republican primary. An announcement is expected soon.

One other Democrat has entered the race. Oz Bengur, an investment banker, has filed with the Maryland Board of Elections and will be holding campaign events today.

Edgemere Elementary, where Ruppersberger will make his announcement, was the first school to be built during his tenure as county executive. Ruppersberger, a former County Council chairman, has served two four-year terms as executive.

After the announcement, he and a group of volunteers will board a campaign bus. They will make stops at two senior centers in the city, have lunch at Mikie's Restaurant in Anne Arundel County and visit a Boys and Girls Club in Aberdeen.

Although there is another Democrat in the race, Ruppersberger's early endorsements from the Democratic establishment are not a surprise. Bengur is a relative political unknown, while Ruppersberger has been in elective office for 17 years.

"I've worked with Dutch for over a decade. We've both come out of local government, and I know he's a fighter who works on a grass-roots level," Mikulski said in remarks prepared for today's event. "Dutch Ruppersberger will make a terrific congressman."

At a breakfast for county legislators two weeks ago, state Sens. Michael J. Collins and Barbara A. Hoffman both said they support Ruppersberger.

"I think he's done a wonderful job," Collins said. "He'll bring an important perspective to Congress relative to the desired partnership between the federal government and local government, just as he worked so successfully both forging and capitalizing on and refining the partnership between the state government and local government."

Bengur said he's not deterred by the endorsements.

"I'm just taking my campaign to the people, so that doesn't daunt me at all," he said. "I'm not looking for their endorsements. I'm looking for the endorsement of the voters on Election Day. I think that's wonderful for Dutch."

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