Eileen Martin:

Cooking Up a Challenge

A Year In Their Lives

December 28, 2003|By Patricia Meisol

Crofton mom Eileen Martin, 63, could have been a lawyer like her dad and her husband, or a mathematician like her oldest son. Instead, the Georgetown University graduate stayed home to care for her four sons. Now they are grown, and this year, she entered the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Barbara Mikulski. Here's Martin in her own words, on baking, bucking the system and "cookie-cutter" politicians.

I am the anti-Hillary.

I was a closet activist, a political junkie. My real political awakening came when Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes said she 'could have stayed home and baked cookies instead of pursuing a career.'

It hit me: Well guess what? I stayed home and baked cookies, and I am damn proud of it.

Then I started really paying attention.

When you are busy raising children and building for the future, you don't have time to spend reading the paper and looking behind the headlines. Now everything's changed. I have to say what I think.

I was an Independent until I filed in August, but I always voted conservatively. I am a Bushie.

I don't see any reason why I can't serve. Success can be measured in many ways. I don't think politics requires any special background other than a willingness to serve, core beliefs, character and integrity, and a desire to do what is best. It takes nothing other than good common sense.

I am not a gopher. I spent 40 years being a gopher. I am not interested in being a cog in a wheel. You have to find your niche. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and always followed national politics. At my age, I can't start building a political base.

I don't think we need more politicians, whether Democrat or Republican. They follow a cookie-cutter recipe. I do want to see people besides politicians enter politics. I compare myself to a female Don Quixote or an aging Joan of Arc. Somebody has to break the mold, do something different.

There are 10, 11 women in the Senate. Men still predominate. I don't think these men know the first thing about balancing a budget. They lack the skills to balance a budget as much as we are required to do. We started out with debt of $800 for my husband's military uniforms and we were making $3,000 a year. Then we slogged through 10 years while he went to law school at night.

I am not Martha Stewart, OK? I am just your average homemaker, with above-average children and husband.

I keep a neat house, but you can write with your fingers in the dust. I like neatness, and I like homemade things. I make everything from scratch. I am not a great cook, but I'm a great critic, and I love to bake.

One of my greatest pleasures after babies was to come out to the kitchen on a cold winter morning and start mixing up the cookies. There were all those wonderful sensations, of warmth, the smell of coffee. Have you ever enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven? That is truly one of the world's greatest pleasures. I could eat a dozen. I am not too keen on them after that. They can sit in the can on top of the refrigerator.

I am happy with my role as a mother and I would do it over all again. I consider myself part of the silent majority. But I felt I fulfilled my responsibilities and I could turn my attention to my own interests. Also, I feel what I am doing is not for myself, but my peers, the silent majority.

Other women bakers are probably more qualified, but you know what: Nobody's doing it. If you have the desire, something to offer, then do it. Don't keep saying, I'm disgusted with politics. It doesn't make a difference if I am successful or not. Perhaps I can open or show the way for other people in the silent majority to step forward.

It's like crossing the Rubicon. On my side, everything is familiar, comfortable, known. Once I put my name to the line, all of a sudden, I open myself up to the public for scrutiny. I'm not a public speaker. It takes courage to do something I'm not real comfortable with.

I went down to the Board of Elections in Annapolis to file. I almost felt like a little kid helping myself a second time to goodies at the buffet table. Nobody was paying attention. I was stepping out of my role. I really hesitated to tell people. I made a line between my personal and my other life. I don't mention it if I am at a bridal shower because it changes the dynamics. I would feel like I am taking away attention from the bride.

I want people to know, but I don't want things to change. The neighbors have been really encouraging. I'm still Mrs. Martin, going around doing the things I always do. I want my ideas out there.

I am against political correctness. I want to see a spade called a spade. I'm for legalizing marijuana, making it like alcohol. We can't fill up our jails with people who use marijuana. My mom is a Democrat. I'm for capital punishment, and I am pro-choice. She's not. She told me, "If you care so much, why don't you do something about it?"

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