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Tim McCown: the no-PAC man

July 19, 1998

Bob MaginnisTim McCown, the lone Democrat in this year's 6th District congressional race, knows he may be defeated this time around. People have told him he needs to raise $750,000 just to lose to incumbent Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and since he's pledged not to accept Political Action Committee money, it's going to be a tough road.

But McCown, who runs his own business providing substance-abuse counseling, has seen a few uphill battles in his time.

Individual contributions are being limited to $10 and instead of hiring a staff to organize and run the campaign, he says he'll count on his friends in organized labor to help him by going door-to-door to get his message out. He pledges that this will be a campaign on issues, not an attack on his opponent, a tactic he calls "lazy."

"A lot of candidates are lazy and spend all their time raising money, so at the last minute they can get someone to produce a hate message for them," he said.

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The antidote to this? Federally funded national elections, which he said would produce a whole new mindset among political people, who he says have begun treating citizens not as voters, but as consumers to be fed a message.

McCown says he's running in part because of concern about the national economy, which is going great guns for some, but not for all.

"If you're in investment or finance, the economy is fine, but in the next few years (those people) are going to find themselves going through the same thing as factory workers did several years ago," when massive numbers were laid off, McCown said.

Ross Perot was right about the NAFTA treaty, McCown says, because it's taken American jobs and sent them to the Maquiladora section of Mexcio along the southern border of the U.S.

Companies have a right to go wherever they want to do business, McCown said, but the U.S. has the right to enact tariffs to protect those firms that stay here and provide jobs from being driven out of business.

The export of jobs also has a national security component, according to McCown, who finds it disturbing that some military hardware is being subcontracted to China. If China and the U.S. become engaged in a conflict, McCown asks, will China send spare parts?

And as we lose the capacility to manufacture heavy equipment like tanks, McCown says, how will we cope with the next ground conflict in which they're needed?

"To me, it's like back in the 1870 when nations engaged in colonizing other nations. Now it's the corporations. They don't need to conquer the country, they just bring jobs," he said.

The companies that left probably won't be lured back, he said, but the U.S., must maintain enough of its own manufacturing capability so that it can't be held hostage by other nations that keep the industrial-manufacturing capacity that America is losing.

Other issues McCown says he'll capaign on are the environment and education. In regard to the recent wave of school shootings, McCown said the mistake educators made was in not taking seriously some of the very explicit threats that were made.

"As far as that goes, for a year these teenagers were talking about killing somebody," he said.

The other mistake being made in education is focusing on the schools that don't work.

"Nobody ever suggested that it might be a good idea to look at the schools that work, and why," he said.

On the environment, he recalled the days of his youth when the family would come from Montgomery County to Western Maryland to fish, in part because they knew they could safely eat what they caught here.

McCown says he's not on the no-growth side, but said that there needs to be a balance "between the need to build houses and the need to preserve farms, woods and streams."

Unlike the crowded Democratic primaries of previous years, McCown is running alone this time and hopes that his message of campaign reform won't be lost on voters.

"They tell me to get re-elected to Congress you have to raise $7,000 to $8,000 per day. You darn near have to be a professional panhandler," he says.

He doesn't spare his own party, saying that there are too many "Democrats running around like ping-pong balls in a windstorm. I get frustrated with them saying that we need campaign reform, but then saying they can do it because the other party won't do it. If you stand for something, just do it," he said.

He paused then, as if considering the enormous task he faces in running against an incumbent like Bartlett and changing his own party at the same time.

Then he brightens, and his mood turns hopeful again.

"If I get my message out, I'll do a lot better than people think," he said.

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