Sierra Club likes Ruppersberger for District 2

Rival Bentley is endorsed by several business groups

October 05, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

The Sierra Club endorsed Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd Congressional District race yesterday, praising his record of land preservation as Baltimore County executive.

In making the endorsement, Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director, also criticized Ruppersberger's Republican opponent, Helen Delich Bentley, saying her environmental record while serving in Congress from 1984 to 1994 was poor.

Pope echoed criticism from the national League of Conservation Voters, which in August named Bentley to its "dirty dozen" list of the most anti-environment congressional candidates in the nation. That group criticized her for votes against increased corporate responsibility for pollution, wetlands protections and water and air quality regulations.

The Bentley campaign dismissed the criticism yesterday, saying it comes from radical anti-business groups.

Pope, who announced the endorsement at the Marshy Point Nature Center in eastern Baltimore County, said Ruppersberger's experience in local government would help him craft workable environmental legislation in Washington.

"It's useful to get some people in Congress who have actually done the stuff Congress tells other people to do," Pope said. "We're really excited to have somebody who is not only in favor of but has worked for and done open space preservation."

While Ruppersberger has gotten a boost from two national environmental organizations, Bentley has scored endorsements from business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Cargo Security Council and, most recently, the National Federation of Independent Business.

Sharon B. Wolff, NFIB's director of campaign services, said Bentley has a strong record of supporting issues important to small businesses. She supports a permanent repeal of the estate tax, tort reform and tax relief for small businesses, Wolff said.

The organization surveyed its 300 members in the 2nd District, and they overwhelmingly supported Bentley over Ruppersberger, Wolff said.

Bentley's campaign coordinator, Michael S. Kosmas, said he values endorsements from the chamber of commerce and NFIB over those from the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters.

"If you look behind the cute pictures of animals on their posters, these guys are pretty radical," he said. "The people in our district are steel workers and factory workers. They have good standards of living, and you're going to put them out of work if you do what the Sierra Club wants."

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