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John Morgan jumps in Conservative delegate takes aim at Steny Hoyer's congressional seat.


REPUBLICAN DEL. John S. Morgan of Laurel has made it official: He will battle veteran Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer next year for Maryland's Fifth Congressional District seat. Mr. Hoyer, first elected to the office in 1981, overcame strong Republican challenges in 1990 and 1992. However, the conservative lay of the land in the newly redrawn Fifth District, the ascendancy of the right in American politics and Mr. Morgan's considerable assets probably mean Mr. Hoyer is in for his toughest fight yet.

In the 1980s, when it mostly comprised Prince George's County, the Fifth was reliably Democratic. The 1991 redistricting, however, shifted the Fifth's boundaries to the south and the east, into more rural and conservative Southern Maryland. Consequently, Mr. Hoyer's political stance has tilted rightward, as evidenced by his recent support of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Morgan, a 31-year-old Johns Hopkins physicist, need not budge an inch to get in line with the conservatism of the new Fifth; he has been there since his election to Maryland's House of Delegates five years ago.

dTC Witness his efforts to overturn an expansion of the state's affirmative action law for minority-owned businesses; his opposition to increasing the amount of Medicaid money that could be used to fund abortions; his advocacy of a smaller, less costly and less powerful federal government; and his roster of advisers who include such stars of the state GOP as Republican Reps. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Roscoe G. Bartlett, former Rep. Marjorie S. Holt, House of Delegates minority leader Robert H. Kittleman of Howard County, state Sen. John A. Cade of Anne Arundel County and 1994 gubernatorial nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

Mr. Morgan also has devoted much energy in Annapolis to curtailing the influence of lobbyists and political action committees -- although the young delegate himself has been known to accept PAC contributions.

Other candidates could still enter the Republican primary, such as former Hoyer nemesis Lawrence Hogan Jr. But they'll likely have to play catch-up with John Morgan, who has a head start, a well-armed organization and a clear ambition to win a congressional seat that has been out of GOP hands for two decades.

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