A voice for Baltimore

November 20, 2003

NO ONE SPOKE more passionately, eloquently or forcefully about his dual responsibilities as a state lawmaker than Pete Rawlings. A champion of his native Baltimore and a steward of the state's fiscal resources, the late delegate balanced his twin duties with the professionalism, skill and rigor of the mathematician-politician that he was. As chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Howard Peters Rawlings excelled at maintaining that balance, ensuring that the needs of his state and city were best served.

There could be no better tribute to that admirable sense of proportion than to fill his chairmanship with a legislator who possesses his same clear vision for his hometown and his native Maryland.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch may feel that Mr. Rawlings' death last week of cancer left a vacancy he can't easily fill because of Mr. Rawlings' critical role as steward of both the city and the state. Mr. Rawlings understood that Baltimore is the anchor for its region - culturally, economically and institutionally. And that the city's social and fiscal health directly affect the state's well-being.

No one really can replace Mr. Rawlings, but Del. Maggie L. McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat, carries the strong political and professional skills - and the grasp of state and city issues - to pick up where he left off. Mr. Busch has the right candidate for this job in Ms. McIntosh.

She offers the best mix of political know-how, smarts and style to manage the complexities of the state budget process at this time of billion-dollar deficits. And there will be plenty to manage.

But beyond dollars and cents, chairing the Appropriations Committee requires an understanding of local needs. Ms. McIntosh knows Maryland, from the fields and farms of the Eastern Shore to the mountains and valleys of the west. She was a statewide political coordinator for U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. And as chair of the Environmental Matters Committee, she has dealt with issues of importance to the state's farmers and rural counties such as agricultural preservation and open space.

In these tough economic times of having to do more with less, the chair of the Appropriations Committee will have to embody the fortitude and toughness that made Mr. Rawlings a standout.

Delegate McIntosh is the best bet for the city - and for the state.

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