Comparing himself with Teddy Roosevelt who charged up San Juan Hill, Ralph Gies, a Gambrills accountant, is fighting an uphill battle for the 1st Congressional District seat.
While most of the attention in the race has focused on the fight between incumbents Tom McMillen and Wayne Gilchrest, Mr. Gies has been waging a low-key, bare-bones effort as a write-in candidate.
Employees and a sister stuff envelopes in his office. His son-in-law is helping him comb through voter registration lists. He has asked friends and members of his church to support him.
Mr. Gies explains that he decided to enter the race about six weeks ago, to offer an alternative to Mr. Gilchrest and Mr. McMillen, who both support abortion rights.
"I waited for someone else to come along, but they didn't," says the 67-year-old Mr. Gies.
Although he walks with the aid of crutches, the result of polio he contracted while in high school, Mr. Gies says his health is good and he sees no reason he shouldn't run. His office on Annapolis Road is slightly cluttered with papers and tax books. Rows of tax manuals line the bookshelves behind him. From one shelf, a picture of Jesus stares out over the office.
Mr. Gies was reared in Crownsville, the fifth of 11 children in a Catholic family. He worked for a number of federal government agencies, and was an accountant for USF&G; before retiring to his own accounting and tax service business 20 years ago.
Mr. Gies admits to being a political novice, but says he understands small business and has a number of ideas to improve government. "I feel as qualified as a basketball player," he said in reference to Mr. McMillen, who played professional basketball. Mr. Gies supports a number of legislative reforms, including term limits for members of Congress, the line-item veto and a balanced budget amendment.
One of Mr. Gies' favorite ideas is an inter-city monorail system to reduce pollution and traffic congestion. Monorails could be built over such roads as U.S. Route 50, Interstate 95 and Maryland Route 2, and used to link Ocean City with the western shore, he says.
Although Mr. Gies takes positions on a number of issues, the abortion question remains his focus. He is active in the anti-abortion movement and is helping the Vote kNOw Coalition of Maryland, a group advocating the defeat of Question 6 on the ballot this November.
If elected, he promises to introduce legislation to reduce the number of abortions and to oppose all legislation authorizing federal funds for abortions. He advocates outlawing abortions, except where the life of the mother is at risk, but said he would punish the doctors, not the women, if they would seek illegal abortions.
While he is a registered Democrat, Mr. Gies said he plans to vote for President Bush. But he disagrees with Mr. Bush on some issues, including taxes.
He agrees with the president, however, in his assessment that crime and drug problems are at least partly due to the breakdown of values within society. Mr. Gies says schools have been infected with a "condom mentality," and faults them for not teaching morality.