Ben Cardin returned to the birthplace of his political career today, dropping by the State House to urge Maryland lawmakers to bury their partisan differences and work together to help the state's residents at a time of growing economic trouble.
Benjamin L. Cardin, now the state's junior U.S. senator, served 21 years in the House of Delegates and reigned as Speaker of the House from 1979 to 1986. The Baltimore Democrat was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987, where he represented the 3rd District until his election to the Senate in 2006.
The genial, quiet senator appeared unannounced in the Senate chamber this morning and began working his way down the righthand aisle, shaking hands with the Republican members as various announcements were made. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller spied him after a few minutes and called him to the front to address the body.
"People in our state are hurting," Cardin told the senators, calling the housing crisis "real" and the recent economic news troubling. "We're all in this together, and we need to find the answers to the problems, because the people depend on us."
Cardin popped into the House as well, where he said later that he delivered much the same message: to not miss this opportunity to help those in the state who need it.
And while shaking more hands outside in the lobby, he acknowledged that the communication went two ways -- he said lawmakers weren't shy about asking for his help with federal issues.