Looking beyond the March 5 congressional primary, Republican Patrick L. McDonough yesterday took advantage of a news conference on pending campaign finance reform to challenge Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the 3rd District Democrat he probably will face in November.
Mr. McDonough asked Mr. Cardin to sign a "campaign reform pledge" that includes several key provisions of the House's reform legislation known as the "Bipartisan Clean Congress Act," which the congressman is co-sponsoring.
Mr. McDonough, a Republican from Perry Hall who is favored in a three-way primary to win the GOP nomination, asked Mr. Cardin, the presumed Democratic nominee, to agree to four campaign reform measures, similar to those included in the House legislation.
The pledge he proposed for the Nov. 5 general election race would limit campaign spending to $200,000 for each candidate in the general balloting, ban political action committee contributions and require that each candidate contribute no more than $50,000 of his or her own money to the campaign.
It also would ban the use of "soft money" -- that is, the use of independent expenditure committees, formed by large special interest groups, to pay for certain expenses not counted against federal limits on campaign donations. Mr. McDonough's proposal, however, excluded a ban on soft money from political parties.
But Mr. Cardin, a major proponent of campaign finance reform since he was Maryland's House speaker, said he would not sign the pledge.
Common Cause President Ann McBride, who spoke at a newsconference in North Baltimore designed to highlight the campaign reform proposals pending before Congress, said Common Cause had a long-standing practice "not to ask people to voluntarily abide by provisions of a bill" for reform.