The Sun's Endorsements

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Sun makes the following recommendations for the Nov. 3 general election.As was explained previously,we have not endorsed a presidential candidate in the last two elections and will not do so this year.In the presidential race,voters have far more information than they do in any other political contest.

In addition to the congressional elections discussed below,voters should take care to cast their ballots in favor of Question 6,the abortion referendum. A vote For this question would keep abortion legal in the early stages of pregnancy and would add to Maryland law a parental-notification requirement.

Senate

Both Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and her opponent, Alan L. Keyes, are polar opposites in the great game of American politics.

Ms. Mikulski, a Baltimore Democrat, is finishing her first Senate term after a long record as a community activist and a member of the City Council and the House of Representatives. Mr. Keyes, her Republican opponent, is not quite a political neophyte -- he ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Paul Sarbanes in 1988 -- but he is essentially an intellectual gadfly on his party's right flank.

In a relatively short time, Ms. Mikulski has emerged onto the national political stage, speaking out for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and leading the drive to elect more women to Congress.

Still, Marylanders are not interested in sending a symbol to represent them on Capitol Hill. They want an effective legislator, a vigorous advocate of Maryland's interests in Washington and a political leader with constructive impact on this state's politics and national affairs.

On all of these scores, Ms. Mikulski gets fairly good marks, and Mr. Keyes fails miserably. Marylanders should vote for Barbara Mikulski once again. Mr. Keyes may have a brilliant future in public affairs. But that future does not lie in the Senate and probably not in Maryland politics.

He is an original thinker, an articulate exponent of conservative political theories and a man of valuable experience in education, advocacy and the diplomatic service. He is not an adept candidate for elective office, nor is there evidence he would be effective if elected. He is too much the maverick. His roots in Maryland are shallow.

Ms. Mikulski, in contrast, is a gritty politician who quickly secured a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee where she has jurisdiction over the space program and housing and urban affairs matters. Her record merits voter approval. Far more than her colleague, Mr. Sarbanes, she has worked hard for the state's interests.

We have some misgivings about Ms. Mikulski. She is more thoughtful about programs to fill social and economic needs than about ways to pay for them. Her shrill liberalism is at times out of sync with her statewide constituency. Her protectionist views may please organized labor but hardly fit with Maryland's maritime traditions. She too often plays to the crowd instead of making tough, unpopular political choices. Yet she is a skillful, activist legislator whose clout in the Senate is on the rise. The Sun urges her re-election.

1st District

A difficult choice awaits voters in this district: two competent incumbent congressmen, Democrat Tom McMillen and Republican Wayne Gilchrest, agree on issues more than they differ. Yet from our perspective, Mr. Gilchrest is the better candidate to represent the people of the Eastern Shore, Anne Arundel County and South Baltimore who comprise the new 1st District.

At a time when the nation seeks to depart from politics as usual, Mr. Gilchrest offers the better hope for change on Capitol Hill. After one term, the former high school teacher has shown himself to be unorthodox and quietly bold. Though he has voted conservatively on spending issues and crime, he has not been afraid to buck either popular sentiment or the GOP party line by supporting abortion rights, gun control and wetlands protection. He has won support from both business and environmental leaders, an unusual happening in politics.

Mr. McMillen, to his credit, knows how to walk the corridors of power. His seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he can put his acumen as a wealthy businessman to good use, is an asset for Maryland. But Mr. McMillen's early lack of interest in representing the Eastern Shore raises questions about how well he understands the needs of working people on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay. Mr. Gilchrest, who has lived a modest life and who has known his share of financial troubles, is more representative of the district.

A vote for Mr. Gilchrest entails a certain sacrifice. Mr. McMillen has connections in Washington that sometimes prove useful in getting things done, while Mr. Gilchrest is still a junior congressman with little influence. But his lack of tenure is a minor point, especially if Congress ends up with 100 to 150 new members.

In Congress, two years is barely a beginning. Yet it has been long enough for Mr. Gilchrest to establish himself as a smart, decent man with the courage to vote his conscience. Let's give him two more years, and see if a different kind of politician really can make a difference on Capitol Hill.

2nd District

Contradictions abound in the political life of Maryland 2nd District Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.

She fights for the working man, yet supports Bush-Reagan policies that have hurt blue-collar workers. She's highly partisan, yet got kid-gloves treatment in last year's redistricting from the Democrats. She has succeeded in politics with a strong local focus, yet has been distracted by the slaughter in Yugoslavia, where her steadfast support for her ancestral Serbia appears misplaced.

In spite of that, we endorse her for a fifth term. Mrs. Bentley is a longtime advocate for developing Baltimore's port and heavy industry; she was working on the jobs issue years before there was a "jobs issue."

Her opponent, Michael C. Hickey Jr., is a lawyer who's never held office. He has compelling views on wasteful defense spending and some offbeat views as well, such as suggesting Harford County should bus students to fill empty schools in eastern Baltimore County. But he is no match for the incumbent. We endorse Helen Bentley in the 2nd.

5th District

After a year of resentment against incumbent politicians, some 5th District voters will be tempted to cast their ballots against Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, one of the most powerful men in Congress. That would be a mistake.

Republican Larry Hogan Jr. cannot compare. He offers no elected experience and no original ideas. During this campaign, Mr. Hogan parroted traditional GOP philosophy and ran more on anti-incumbent sentiment than anything else.

Mr. Hogan has blamed Mr. Hoyer for recent House scandals. In fact, Mr. Hoyer has nothing to apologize for. He has an extensive knowledge of the region and of national and international affairs. His seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee gives him clout to protect the interests of his district -- and state. Voters in Southern Maryland and Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties should re-elect Steny Hoyer.

6th District

Whoever is elected in this district will lack the clout and seniority of incumbent Democrat Beverly Byron, who lost in the March primary. The newly elected congressman will have to learn a great deal in a short amount of time. Representing the 6th District, with its problems of rapid growth in Howard, Carroll and Frederick counties and chronic high unemployment in Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties, will be challenging.

The campaign has been hard-fought, and often times the hard-hitting tactics used by Democrat Thomas Hattery and Republican Roscoe Bartlett have overwhelmed all the other issues. There are, however, major differences between the candidates that voters should keep in mind.

Mr. Bartlett, a scientist and businessman, views the federal government from a harshly ideological perspective. Many of his conservative solutions to the nation's pressing problems are unrealistic.

Our choice is Mr. Hattery. He has represented Frederick County in the House of Delegates since 1983, compiling a commendable record. On a number of issues, he has been able to work well with his colleagues in fashioning legislative solutions to complex problems.

Mr. Hattery, who is a farmer and small businessman, has been exposed to many of the key concerns of the district. He has been attentive to his constituents and has displayed a willingness to listen to a wide range of views. He has a good grasp of the important issues the nation faces, and he also has done some thinking about solutions. Mr. Hattery, while more moderate than Mrs. Byron, has a pragmatic approach to government that is characteristic of the district's electorate.

For these reasons, we endorse Tom Hattery and urge 6th District voters to send him to Washington.

Other Districts

In Maryland's four other congressional races, here are our endorsements:

* THIRD DISTRICT: Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin has been effective during his three terms. His current focus on health-care reform could make his next two years his most important.

* FOURTH DISTRICT: This is a new majority-black district in Prince George's and Montgomery counties. Democratic state Sen. Albert R. Wynn has performed admirably in Annapolis and gets our nod over GOP newcomer Michele H. Dyson.

* SEVENTH DISTRICT: Democrat Kweisi Mfume has turned in a solid six years in Washington representing an increasingly diverse constituency. He deserves a fourth term.

* EIGHT DISTRICT: Constance A. Morella, the liberal Republican congresswoman from Montgomery County, has earned re-election. Her pragmatic voting record makes her a worthy heir to the Mathias-Gude-Steers legacy in Montgomery.

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