WASHINGTON – “Computer guy” Richard Matthews, isn’t letting Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger win the election for the 2nd Congressional District without a fight.
“I’m better qualified because I’m not a typical politician,” said Matthews, of Orchard Beach, who said he ran after looking at the ballot in December and discovering there was no Republican running. “I’m not a career politician, I’m a computer guy and I have a better recipe for success in Congress than Ruppersberger does.”
Matthews, who is running on a platform of “liberty, peace and prosperity,” hopes to bring a fresh new face to Congress as a regular guy against Ruppersberger’s campaign of experience.
The challenger, a 27-year-old computer systems engineer, was a volunteer in Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Since 1985, Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville, has held several public offices, including Baltimore County executive for eight years, Baltimore City Council member for nine years, and he is now seeking his fourth congressional term. The congressman also serves on the Appropriations Committee and the House Committee on Intelligence.
“I respect people who run for office (because) that’s part of our American system and it’s easy for people to be on the sidelines and complain and when someone files to run I believe they become a part of the process,” Rupersberger said about his opponent. “I just hope that people, as it relates to me, will look at who I am, what my record is, what I accomplished and what I do now.”
Topping their list of differences is the current economic crisis.
“I think our economy is our main difference and how we approach that,” said Matthews, who favors tax cuts. “The No. 1 difference is I believe I’m going to respect taxpayer money in Washington. I’m going to look to balance the budget and to not send bailouts to people who took bad risks.”
Ruppersberger voted for the $700 billion bailout plan twice.
“I don’t call it a bailout, it was clearly a rescue package,” Ruppersberger said. “My response to my opponent is, ‘What’s your solution?’ I’m not going to put my constituents and my fellow Americans at risk on a hard vote, which as it turns out was the right vote. We still have a long way to go but we are starting to turn the corner.”
Although Matthews agreed with Ruppersberger’s votes for the surge in Iraq last year, he disagrees with the congressman’s position on troop withdrawal.
“I’m the only one in this race that has taken a pledge to only vote for removal of our troops in 2009 and as a Republican, I think it’s a very strong position to take,” Matthews said. “I think we’ve already done what we’re going to do there and the bottom line is we can’t afford to be there any longer. I’d like to see every soldier out of Iraq in the year 2009.”
Ruppersberger said his five visits to Iraq qualify him to talk about the issue.
“We need to get out of Iraq, we’re spending $10 (billion) to $12 billion a month. We can’t afford it,” Ruppersberger said. “The difference between me and my opponent in that one issue is that as long as our troops are in harm’s way, I will always vote for the resources that they can have to protect themselves.”
In the third quarter, the congressman reported $89,879 in total contributions with almost $790,000 cash on hand, according to a report released by the Federal Election Commission.
In the same report, Matthews reported almost $2,800 in contributions and about $1,700 on hand.
Both Ruppersberger and Matthews were unopposed for their party nominations in February.
The 2nd District includes parts of Baltimore City and some of Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties. It is also home to two military bases, including Fort Meade and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, the National Security Agency, the Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay and the Baltimore-Washington-Marshall International Airport.
As of last week, there were 246,408 registered Democrats, 93,534 Republicans and 905 independents in the district.
Since his first run in 2002, Ruppersberger has won with more than 50 percent of the vote, with his numbers increasing each time. In 2006, he was re-elected with 69 percent to 31 percent of the vote against Republican Jimmy Mathis.