Ruthann Aron ponders running against Morella CAMPAIGN 1996


Ruthann Aron, the Montgomery County developer who ran a combative campaign for U.S. Senate last year, is considering a run for the congressional seat held by Rep. Constance A. Morella, a fellow Republican.

Ms. Aron said yesterday that she has been approached by Republicans who were displeased with Mrs. Morella's votes against portions of their party's "Contract with America."

Those Republicans, whom she declined to name, urged her to challenge Mrs. Morella in the GOP primary next year, Ms. Aron said. She stressed that she has not made any decision yet.

"I just came off a very tough U.S. Senate race, and I have to make a personal decision as to whether or not this is something that I believe I should tackle, and whether or not I believe this is best for the 8th District -- and the country for that matter," said Ms. Aron, 52.

Her 1994 Senate race was an unusually bruising one by party standards. She lost in the GOP primary to former Tennessee Sen. Bill Brock, whom she attacked as a tax-raising, carpetbagging, career politician.

Mr. Brock adopted the above-the-fray stance of a front-runner until late in the campaign, when he fought back. The race degenerated into a series of charges and counter-charges, with each candidate accusing the other of lying.

Ms. Aron later sued Mr. Brock for defamation, saying he made false statements that she had been convicted of fraud. The case is pending.

Mrs. Morella's administrative assistant, William C. Miller Jr., declined to comment on Ms. Aron's possible candidacy. "Speculating on potential challengers at this point is premature," he said.

Mrs. Morella, 64, has represented the majority Democratic district in Montgomery County since 1987. Mr. Miller described her as a fiscal conservative who is moderate to liberal on social issues, just like her suburban Washington constituents.

"Montgomery sends liberal Republicans to Annapolis and to Congress because they're much closer to its ideology," Mr. Miller said.

Mrs. Morella voted against the tax cut, term limits and welfare proposals backed by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Georgia Republican.

"Her term limits vote was the item that most disturbed me," Ms. Aron said. "She is prepared to regulate the rest of us, but she's not prepared to regulate herself. If you ask me for the litmus test of sincerity, for me term limits is as good a test as any."

Mr. Miller, however, said Mrs. Morella believes the 1992 and 1994 elections showed that term limits are not needed. In both those years, voters sent many incumbents packing.

He said his boss instead supports campaign finance reforms that would make it easier for newcomers to run for Congress.

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