NO MORE ARDUOUS challenge exists for a politician than doing the right thing when doing the right thing could imperil his career. Nothing is a truer test of a politician's mettle than asking him to stand up to vocal opposition and the threat of retaliation at the ballot box. Last week, after months of controversy over football stadiums in Baltimore and Prince George's County, a number of state lawmakers weathered this challenge and passed this test.
Faced with the promise of ruination from a corps of violent opponents -- including most of the region's small newspapers as well as the Washington Post -- these elected leaders stuck out their necks and voted to fund the Baltimore stadium as well as infrastructure for the Prince George's facility, to which the city project was linked. Their vote will mean jobs, a boost to businesses and unquantifiable benefits from the national attention an NFL team attracts.
Their vote also means they may endure discomfort in their districts, at least for awhile. Consider, Del. Michael Busch, D-Annapolis. As chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, Mr. Busch has been working doggedly behind the scenes since January to assemble the votes needed to approve the stadium deal. During this time he has been vilified by the Annapolis newspaper, which loudly pledged to brand him a "bum" if he voted for the stadiums. Instead of caving to the pressure, Mr. Busch kept brokering compromises and pushing fellow delegates. He voted for the final deal without apology, saying it was in the best interests of the state and his county which, by virtue of proximity to Camden Yards, will benefit as much as any other part of Maryland from the return of football to Baltimore. Mr. Busch literally put his future on the line in order to do the right thing, a display of backbone that any voter sick of pandering shouldn't soon forget.
Mr. Busch is not the only lawmaker who courageously backed this project. The entire Baltimore delegation did, as well as all Baltimore County lawmakers except three Republicans. In Harford, those who acted in the best interests of Maryland are Republican Sen. David Craig and Democratic Sen. William H. Amoss; Democratic delegates Rose Mary Hatem Bonsack, Donald C. Fry and Mary Louise Preis and Republican delegate James M. Harkins.
Pub Date: 3/26/96