With encouragement from the state GOP leadership and money to invest in his campaign, first-term state Sen. E.J. Pipkin is considered the likely Republican challenger to incumbent Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
But fellow Republican candidate Corrogan R. Vaughn, a political newcomer from Baltimore County, said he should not be discounted.
"We haven't heard what makes Pipkin a great candidate other than he has seven figures," said Vaughn, 37, a businessman who entered the race for the nomination three months before Pipkin and says his campaign has grassroots support. "I'm in it to win it. I'm not a perennial candidate. I'm not a kook."
Pipkin, 47, is a former Wall Street bond salesman who cut his political teeth on the Eastern Shore by fighting a plan to dump dredge material cleared from shipping channels in open water near the Bay Bridge. In 2002, the Stevensville resident lent himself $573,000 in a successful bid to unseat 24-year state Sen. Walter M. Baker.
State Republicans courted Pipkin, a 1974 graduate of Dundalk High School, largely because he has campaign experience and can help finance his race.
After announcing his candidacy in October, Pipkin told The Sun that he wants to be known for the intense campaigning that marked his state race - knocking on doors, waving signs, greeting voters - and highlights his efforts to aid working families and seniors, create jobs and protect the bay in his latest radio advertisement.
Vaughn said, if elected, he would work to expand health care coverage, boost the state's economy and sponsor legislation to lessen American dependency on fossil fuels.
In the end, Vaughn said, he wants the voters - not the state GOP leadership - to choose the best candidate. "Positive change comes through choice," he said.