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Mooney, Hecht carry on contentious campaign

October 24, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Maryland state Sen. Alex X. Mooney and Del. Sue Hecht agree they have widely varying philosophies about state government.

That's where the harmony ends.

In what has been one of the most contentious campaigns of the election season, the two candidates for state Senate District 3 can't even agree on their differences.

Mooney puts the contrast in ideological terms.

"What could be more clear? She's a liberal Democrat and I'm a conservative Republican," said Mooney, who in four years has built a reputation for being one of the most outspoken conservatives in the Maryland General Assembly.

Hecht contrasts the choice much differently.

"There's a clear distinction that I bring results and he doesn't," she said.

Through her role on the House Appropriations Committee, Hecht said, she has helped bring numerous transportation and education projects to Washington and Frederick counties. Mooney, she often points out, has voted against the state budgets that paid for those projects.

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"He votes against any progress when he votes against the budget," she said.

Mooney said he opposed the bloated budgets because he knew they would land the state in debt. The budget gap is $1.7 billion.

"Spending is out of control," he said.

Hecht defended the state's budget choices, saying in good times the state was able to make unprecedented investments in education such as the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

Now that the state is feeling the effects of a nationwide economic downturn, it will have to cut back on spending to meet the constitutional requirement of balancing the budget, she said.

Mooney said his priorities have been cutting taxes, reducing the size of government and defending family values.

"You need someone there who can take on the establishment. I'm the one you can turn to," he said at a recent candidates forum.

Mooney is endorsed by conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association and the Maryland Taxpayers Association.

Hecht is backed by liberal organizations such as the National Abortion Rights Action League and the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association. She also has support from moderate groups such as the Maryland Farm Bureau and teachers' unions.

Mooney points out that he gets higher ratings than any other lawmaker from the pro-business Maryland Business for Responsive Government.

But Hecht said her opponent doesn't have the practical experience of hiring people and paying benefits that she has. For 10 years, she was director of the Heartly House in Frederick, Md., a nonprofit shelter for battered women.

Hecht accuses Mooney of paying lip service to the issues while she has delivered results by passing laws to crack down on child abusers, help domestic violence victims and protect correctional officers

"He's done nothing," she said.

Mooney blames politics for his lack of legislation. He has gotten several bills through the General Assembly only to see them vetoed by Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat, he said.

District 3 covers the southern tip of Washington County and the southern portion of Frederick County, including the city of Frederick.

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