Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer touted his work in Congress as the reason he should win re-election. His GOP challenger, Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., said Mr. Hoyer's work in Congress is precisely why voters should elect someone new.
Last night's half-hour debate on Maryland Public Television merely echoed much of what has already been said during the campaign by the two major 5th District congressional candidates.
Predictably, Mr. Hoyer, 53, trumpeted his experience and his ability to bring projects to the newly drawn district, which includes portions of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties and all of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties.
He spoke of endorsements and lofty accomplishments.
"I'm honest and effectively represent the citizens," Mr. Hoyer said. If his opponent's claims were solid, the congressman said, "I would be responsible for hurricanes and earthquakes."
But Mr. Hogan, 36, said Mr. Hoyer "bears the responsibility of wasteful government spending. . . . I want to get the government off the backs of taxpayers and out of their pockets."
Representative Hoyer is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and sits on the Appropriations Committee. Mr. Hogan, a real estate broker from Upper Marlboro, has painted the congressman as a tax-and-spend liberal who is basically out of touch with his constituency.
Mr. Hogan described himself as an "outsider" who wants to change "politics as usual" in Washington. He said he wasn't so much running for Congress as he was "running against Congress."
Instead of specific questions, general topics submitted by the League of Women Voters were introduced for discussion by moderator Jeff Salkin.
The topics included the economy, the national debt, public education, crime and foreign policy.
In most areas, both men were long on generalities and short on specifics.
Of education, Mr. Hogan said, "I like what Bill Clinton says about education -- everybody gets a college education and we return to the basics. . . . Teachers should also get qualification exams."
On that subject, Mr. Hoyer said he favored increased early childhood health care, "which leads to quality early childhood education."