WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger will face an organizer for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul in the 2nd Congressional District’s 2008 election after no else came forward to run before Monday’s deadline.
Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville, and Republican Richard Pryce Matthews of Orchard Beach face no opposition in their respective Feb. 12 primaries.
A two-term incumbent, Ruppersberger, 61, said Tuesday he looks forward to getting out and discussing the issues, but will continue to focus on his job, instead of the campaign.
“It has always been my philosophy that if you do the job you’re supposed to do, you’ll be judged on that and not on the political rhetoric that frequently revolves around the campaign season,” he said.
Matthews said he “reluctantly” entered the race after no other Republicans stepped forward.
“My congressional run has been kind of a sidebar for me to running (Paul’s) campaign” in Anne Arundel County, said Matthews, 27. “After the primary, I expect I’ll have a lot more time, and the networking I have done (for Paul) will help support my run when it comes to the general election.”
Matthews said he wasn’t happy Ruppersberger supported an extension of the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism bill pushed through Congress following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Patriot Act has been targeted primarily by Democrats, but also by Libertarian-minded politicians like Paul for restricting civil liberties.
A former prosecutor, Ruppersberger said he voted for the bill because he “felt it was important to give the men and women in law enforcement the resources they need to do their job.”
Matthews will face an uphill battle in knocking off a two-term incumbent who has solidified his standing in a moderate district that includes Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade and parts of Baltimore City and Harford, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
“There are plenty of people who are ex-military who have settled down in this general area, and as a result, they tend to be hawkish and not particularly progressive on social issues,” said Dan Nataf, a political scientist who heads the Center for the Study of Local Issues at Anne Arundel Community College. “That’s a dance (Ruppersberger) has had to play to keep everyone happy.”
A former Baltimore County executive, Ruppersberger has earned high marks for his constituent service, said Nataf and David Paulson, spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party.
“When there is a total absence of challengers within your own party, it speaks well to Dutch’s ability to serve his district,” Paulson said. “He’s considered unassailable by Democrats who might consider challenging for that seat, as well as by the Republican Party of Maryland.”
John Flynn, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said there was a concerted effort to recruit candidates to run against each incumbent Democratic congressman in Maryland.
“We’re pleased to have Republican candidates in all eight Congressional districts,” he said.
But Matthews, a computer systems engineer, said he has not yet heard from the party, although he plans to seek its help to raise money for the campaign.
Flynn said the party will be happy to work with Matthews.
“He is a newcomer, but there are plenty of newcomers who have been successful,” Flynn said. “You can’t always let that be the reason you don’t get into a race, because then you’ll never run.”