Morgan considers run against Hoyer


Call him ambitious. Call him a workaholic. Whatever the case, John S. Morgan never seems to quit.

A 30-year-old Republican state delegate, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory physicist and congressional science adviser, "he's so busy he doesn't have time to find a wife," said his mother, Louise Morgan, of Hagerstown.

And now the second-term delegate from Laurel is considering a run for Congress in 1996 against entrenched Democratic incumbent Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Prince George's County's 5th District.

Prompted by calls from his constituents in District 13B, Mr. Morgan said he has begun to consider it seriously.

He's already warming up to the political climate on Capitol Hill as the American Physical Society's 1994-1995 congressional fellow. Mr. Morgan is one of six staff members in the office of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the California Republican who represents the 42nd Congressional District.

But Mr. Morgan insists that he applied for that fellowship before he ever considered a run for Congress.

"They're two separate issues," Mr. Morgan said. "Obviously I'm building contacts on Capitol Hill. But I saw [the fellowship] as a great opportunity to meld two good things" -- his background in physics and politics.

Both of those took off about the same time.

Mr. Morgan received his doctorate in physics from Johns Hopkins University the same year he ran a successful campaign against longtime General Assembly incumbent Democrat Robert J. Dipietro -- at age 26.

He cites his success against Mr. Dipietro as evidence that longtime incumbents can be defeated when candidates "mobilize ground troops."

"I don't think Steny Hoyer is unbeatable," Mr. Morgan said. "He really is not somebody who can or is interested in making the changes that are necessary. He just has not had a real challenge."

Unseating Mr. Hoyer would not be easy, however. Mr. Morgan's state legislative district in Laurel straddles Howard and Prince George's counties, and Howard County Republicans gave Mr. Morgan some of his strongest support.

Mr. Hoyer's congressional district is solely in Prince George's County, where Mr. Morgan would face an electorate that is 70 percent Democratic and 19 percent Republican.

Mr. Hoyer's spokesman said the congressman had nothing to say about Mr. Morgan's possible run for office against him.

"Steny is not commenting on any Republican candidates 18 months before the Republican primary," said Jesse Jacobs, a spokesman for Mr. Hoyer, a member of Congress since 1981. "It's not a thought. Steny's thought is representing the people of the 5th District."

Should he prevail, however, Mr. Morgan would bring an unusual perspective to Congress as a working scientist.

"It doesn't happen very often" that a member of Congress has a doctorate in science," said Richard T. Dykema, administrative assistant to Mr. Rohrabacher and supervisor of his staff. Even as a science adviser, "I think he's going to make a real contribution to the staff."

A Montgomery County native who now lives in the Prince George's County part of Laurel, Mr. Morgan has a bachelor's degree in physics, and master's and doctorate degrees in material science. He began full-time work at the Applied Physics Lab in Laurel in 1990.

As a physicist, he develops and tests materials for thermal batteries for defense systems and develops software for a Defense Department satellite that will study ways to track ballistic missiles from space.

The youngest of four sons, he was the first in the Morgan family to pursue elected office, although other family members since have run unsuccessfully for office in Howard and Washington counties.

As a scientist-politician, he keeps a hectic schedule.

Every Monday, he works on Capitol Hill, advising Mr. Rohrabacher on science, energy, the environment and basic research and technology.

Tuesday through Friday, he represents the Howard County and Prince George's County areas of Laurel in Annapolis.

When the General Assembly session ends in April, he will turn his attention full time to working for Mr. Rohrabacher. His duties will include answering constituent mail on science issues, writing Mr. Rohrabacher's speeches on science and advising lawmakers about science.

Because of his yearlong, $40,000 congressional fellowship, Mr. Morgan has taken sabbatical from his regular job at the physics lab.

And while a run for Congress would be grueling, he said it might give him a chance to settle down.

"Maybe I'll meet the girl of my dreams while I'm out campaigning."

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