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More to leadership than money and seniority

ElectionsBarbara A. MikulskiExecutive BranchMartin O'Malley

The recent article about U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski's campaign fundraising ("Mikulski campaign funds hit bonanza," April 22) by John Fritze is disturbing to say the least because it seems to convey the following concepts.

First, the more money a politician raises the more respect he or she should be given by the media and by his or her constituents, and second, the more seniority a politician accumulates, the more respect he or she should be given by the media and by his or her constituents.

And finally, we learn that raising campaign contributions and gaining seniority are great accomplishments.

Nothing, in my opinion, can be further from the truth. I believe the spin of Mr. Fritze's article does a real disservice to your readership. As someone who has tried to emphasize to his students and other concerned citizens of Maryland the evils of money in politics, I believe the process of collecting money for political campaigns is shameful. What's more, seniority status in Congress is more of a demonstration of the desire for power, fame, self-promotion, and personal gain on the part of the politician and not in the best interests of constituents.

As a teacher, I've practiced what I preach as substantiated in the 2010 and 2012 elections. I ran my campaign for governor in 2010 and senator in 2012, by design, on a budget of $730 and received almost 23,000 votes. Per dollar, I received more votes than any one running for elected office. Such being the case, I would be beholden to no one, but I would be bound to do what's right for my constituents. I can honestly say I wouldn't trade my votes for all of those of Gov. Martin O'Malley and Senator Mikulski put together since my votes were obtained the ethical way. Yes, I practice what I preach.

What then is the real measuring stick of a politician if it is not money and seniority? The answer is simple — the ideas and moral character of the politician. That's what really counts. Until these values become the benchmark, we will continue to be the victims of our politically corrupt system.

Ralph Jaffe, Baltimore

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