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Democrats to pick Bartlett challenger

March 04, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

The four Democrats vying for the party's 6th Congressional District nomination have not so much been campaigning against one another as they have been running against Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.

The Democrats have painted the Republican incumbent as out of touch with the Western Maryland district.

They have not concentrated as much on ideology - although all have views that sharply contrast with Bartlett's conservative beliefs - as they have on focus.

"What I want to do is be an active voice to help bring good jobs to Western Maryland," said John Ewald, a teacher who lives in Laurel.

Democratic voters looking for issue positions to help them decide whom to support in Tuesday's primary will likely be disappointed; they have nearly identical views.

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Instead, Democrats will have to determine who will best represent their party in the general election.

Ewald, chairman of the physical education department at Takoma Park Middle School in Montgomery County, said he would focus on education, economic development, the environment and health care.

Ewald, 36, favors increased federal spending to reduce classroom sizes and modernize school buildings.

On economic development, he said he supports increasing the minimum wage and protecting workers' rights to unionize. He said he wants federal tax credits to lure businesses to rural areas.

More than concrete policy proposals, though, Ewald said the district needs more vigorous leadership. He pointed to Western Maryland Economic Development Task Force headed by Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany.

"It would be nice if he had a federal partner," he said.

Anthony J. McGuffin, a Howard County educator, said he supports spending federal funds to "pay teachers as professionals." He also supports interest-free bonds to pay for school construction, hiring 100,000 new teachers and buying computers, Internet access and other equipment for schools.

After education, McGuffin said his next priority is farming.

He advocates exempting farmers from inheritance and capital gains taxes. He also vowed to stop unsustainable farming practices in the Midwest and allow Maryland farmers to join the price-setting Northeast Dairy Compact.

McGuffin, 47, said he believes the federal government should help farmers market environment-friendly organic crops.

"I may be the only guy saying it, but agriculture is No. 2 with me," he said.

Donald M. DeArmon, a veteran congressional staff member from Frederick, said he would work to reduce classroom sizes, modernize school buildings and raise standards for teachers and students.

He favors a patients' bill of rights to reduce the authority of insurance bureaucrats over heath care decisions.

DeArmon, 44, who is making his second run for Congress, said many proposals on health care and other issues have been blocked by inflexible ideology.

"A lot of ideas have merit," he said. "It's really just a question of getting away from the partisanship."

Walter E. Carson, an attorney for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said campaign finance reform motivated him to enter the race.

Carson, 57, who lives in Silver Spring but plans to move to Howard County, said he wants to ban "soft money" from elections. Soft money is the unlimited, unregulated donations that individuals, unions and corporations can make to political parties or independent campaign committees.

"I will purse campaign finance reform with a vengeance," he said.

Carson said he wants to preserve and protect Social Security, develop a national missile defense system to protect against a nuclear attack and create a national health insurance program.

"I just think it's unconscionable that a great country could have so many people at risk," he said.

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