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Baltimore lawyer enters U.S. Senate race

April 03, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

The race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski became more crowded this week with the entry of Baltimore lawyer George W. Liebmann.

Liebmann, 58, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination, saying Marylanders have grown tired of the incumbent's approach to government.

"It's a question of style," he said. "It's a real disagreement about her approach to have every problem settled in Washington."

Liebmann said Maryland has been ill-served in the Senate because the two Democratic incumbents - Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes - are too partisan. He contrasted their styles with moderate Republican Charles McC. Mathias, who left the Senate in 1986.

Liebmann said he would reach across party lines and act more like the state's four Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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"Four more independent people, you won't find. And I think that's what people want," he said.

Through a spokeswoman, Mikulski said she will campaign on her achievements during her first two terms in the Senate.

"I'm proud of my record. I'm running a vigorous campaign and I look forward to taking my message to the voters of Maryland," she said.

Liebmann, a partner in the firm Liebmann & Shively, has behind-the-scenes government experience. As a member of Gov. Harry Hughes' administration, he wrote a memo in 1984 warning of instability in the savings and loan industry - an industry that crashed in the late 1980s.

Liebmann said Mikulski is too beholden to special-interest groups and practices grievance politics.

A prime example, he said, is education. Mikulski has rejected reforms opposed by the teachers unions, he said. He advocated allowing states to provide vouchers and other incentives to break the public school "monopoly" on education.

Liebmann said the federal government has interfered in disciplining unruly students, citing a 1997 amendment that would have eliminated limits in the length of suspensions school systems can impose on emotionally disturbed students.

The amendment failed with the help of Mikulski, he said.

If Liebmann gets the GOP nomination, he will face an admittedly uphill battle against the popular Mikulski. She has coasted to two landslide victories and boasts one of the largest campaign war chests in Congress.

"I don't think it's necessary to outspend her," he said. "I don't think she needs to be drowned in television commercials."

The Republican primary is Sept. 15 and the general election is Nov. 3.

So far, two Republicans have filed, Montgomery County lawyer Robin Ficker and Baltimore County contractor Thomas L. Scott. Carroll County businessman Kenneth L. Wayman also has announced his candidacy.

The filing deadline is July 6.

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