WASHINGTON – If the 11 candidates who are trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski fail, it won’t be from lack of practice.
Between them, the nine Republicans and two Democrats have run for office at least 22 times, and won elected office only once.
The only officeholder is state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who spent more than $500,000 of his own money to win a Statehouse seat in 2002 in his first bid for office.
The Queen Anne’s County Republican is seen as the strongest of the Mikulski challengers, reporting a campaign budget of $376,766 as of December — $250,000 of which is his own money — that is going toward radio and TV ads to make his name known. His main issues are more jobs and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
Corrogan Vaughn, a Baltimore County limousine company owner, has been knocking on doors with a message of bringing jobs back to Maryland, improving the health care system and the schools. The Center for Responsive Politics says Vaughn has raised $3,652, but he said he is not worried about money.
“At the end of the day, (the election) it’s about the people. Money would come,” said Vaughn, a Republican who ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign for Senate in 2002.
John Stafford has been running since 1998: once for the state House of Delegates and two times for the U.S. Senate. The Anne Arundel County Republican said he wants to unseat Mikulski because of her pro-choice abortion stance, and his campaign — “Bye-Bye Barb” — has been conducted mainly through the Internet.
Gene Zarwell is another Republican using the Internet for his campaign, as well as visiting political events, a campaign strategy that he said should cost him nothing. The Gambrills businessman and pilot has run twice for comptroller, once for the House and twice before for Senate. Zarwell’s main goal is to build up private business, because he thinks the state discourages for-profit activities.
He thinks Mikulski is “as vulnerable as can be . . . I have no idea why they keep voting for her.”
Ray Bly, a Jessup appliance-store owner and Vietnam veteran, ran unsuccessfully for Howard County Council in 2002. The GOP hopeful said he has distributed about 1,000 bumper stickers and rallied in shopping centers in several counties in his Senate bid, which calls for less-aggressive foreign policy, tighter controls on illegal immigration and protection of veteran benefits.
“All is cut, cut, cut,” Bly said of the current administration. “Do we have to buy our own equipment to go to war?”
James A. Kodak, a prostate cancer researcher, said he knows he is a “long shot” because he has not run for office before, but the Odenton Republican ran to start building name recognition. His proposals are cheaper prescription drugs, limited legal fees and development of a light freight transportation system.
Other Republicans are Dorothy Corry Jennings of Baltimore City, who ran for Congress in 1998; Eileen “Cookie Baker” Martin, a Crofton housewife; and Earl S. Gordon of Olney.
Democrats in the race have almost as much campaign experience as the Republicans: Robert Kaufman has run for Baltimore mayor twice, for House twice and for Senate twice, while Sid Altman has run twice for the House, once for the U.S. Senate and once for the state Senate.
Kaufman, a Baltimore Socialist activist, said his purpose is not to win but to bring up issues that otherwise would not be discussed. He calls for fighting terrorism with a foreign policy that does not terrorize the world, and spending on schools and health rather than on benefits for big businesses.
Altman, who has spent less than $1,000 on this election, said he was encouraged by the 31,502 votes he received in a 2000 bid for U.S. Senate. The retired teacher from Gaithersburg is campaigning on a platform of more rights for renters, differentiated education for people with learning problems and cuts in military spending.
-30- CNS 02-25-04