John Sarbanes plans to enter crowded race for Cardin's House seat


John P. Sarbanes, the son of five-term Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, plans to announce his candidacy for Congress this month, seeking to occupy one of the elected offices opened by the trickle-down effect of his father's retirement.

Head of the health care practice at the Baltimore law firm Venable LLP, Sarbanes, a Democrat, plans to enter an increasingly crowded field to replace Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin in Maryland's 3rd District. Cardin is running for Paul Sarbanes' Senate seat.

In a letter to supporters, John Sarbanes said his professional and volunteer experience in health care, education and other fields have prepared him to serve in Congress.

"My perspective is pretty diverse, in terms of the subject matter of things I've done," Sarbanes said. "I've done private sector, public sector and nonprofit work pretty much all at the same time. ... That's something I'm not sure the other candidates can bring to the table."

While working at Venable, Sarbanes served for seven years as special assistant to state Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and as a volunteer board member for the Public Justice Center, an advocacy organization working on issues such as housing, consumer protection and workplace protections.

He has never run for office but has been active in Democratic politics in Maryland and other states.

The 3rd District, which includes parts of Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties, has attracted intense interest from prospective Democratic candidates.

Former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, Anne Arundel County Councilman Bill D. Burlison, state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger and Del. Neil F. Quinter, all Democrats, have announced interest in the seat.

Several other Democrats, including investment banker and 2002 congressional candidate Oz Bengur, Del. Jon S. Cardin, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens and her former aide, lobbyist Kevin O'Keeffe, have said they are strongly considering running.

Sarbanes said in his letter to supporters that he has raised $100,000 for the effort. He said he will make a formal announcement sometime after the Jewish holidays this month.

After graduating from the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs at Princeton University, Sarbanes studied law and politics in Greece on a Fulbright scholarship. After that, he attended Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk to Federal District Judge J. Frederick Motz.

He and his wife, Dina Sarbanes, live in the Riderwood area of Baltimore County, where their three children attend public schools.

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