It's not much of a congressional election for unlucky Pasadena voters stranded in the 2nd District. They've got a choice between an incumbent with little interest in Pasadena and a challenger with little interest in Pasadena.
The candidates may promise to watch out for the blip of territory redistricted into the 2nd that extends from Riviera Beach south to the Magothy River, east of Ritchie Highway, but Rep. Helen D. Bentley and Democrat Michael C. Hickey Jr. will always think of Baltimore and Harford counties first.
It's only natural. Mrs. Bentley lives in Timonium in Baltimore County, Mr. Hickey lives in Harford County's Abingdon, and 550,000 of the district's 597,000 residents live in those counties. Of all the screwy decisions state lawmakers made in last year's political redistricting, separating Pasadena from the rest of Anne Arundel may have been the screwiest. "We're forgotten," says William Turc, a Lake Shore Democrat and former state delegate. "We might as well be the South Pole."
Because local advocacy won't be a strong suit for either candidate, voters must look at other issues.
The tough-talking Mrs. Bentley may not be well-known in Pasadena, but she is well-regarded north of the Patapsco. She is probably unbeatable, in spite of her recent role as an apologist for the Serbs. Mrs. Bentley, who is of Serbian extraction, has been prominently involved in Serb lobbying groups at a time when Americans are disgusted by Serb atrocities in the Yugoslav civil war. To her credit, she has long been a vocal advocate for the Port of Baltimore and other blue-collar industries, which employ northern Anne Arundel residents.
Mr. Hickey, a 45-year-old attorney and colonel in the Marine reserves, is a political novice hoping to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment. He's pro-choice, supports national industrial policy, rapid conversion of defense industries, health care reform, child care and family leave. He seems sincere -- and a little naive. His first campaign slogan was, "Let's Give Congress a Hickey."
This election is more about Mrs. Bentley than Mr. Hickey. Voters need to ask whether she deserves another term. Unfortunately, for reasons that have nothing to do with either candidate, Pasadena residents are destined to lose no matter how they answer the question.