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Mikulski holds local campaign rally

January 18, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The red and white "Barb Mobile" was greeted with cheers as it pulled in front of the back door of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Company on Saturday afternoon.

The cheers erupted into applause and whistles as U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski stepped out of the Saturn sports utility vehicle, bearing large "senatorbarb.com" signs across its sides.

"Barb Mobile" was written above the rear wheels, while "Mikulski" was written above the front tires.

If the car and the pool of supporters waving signs in her presence wasn't enough to indicate that Mikulski was running for re-election, the senator made her intentions clear a few minutes later.

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Mikulski, D-Md, asked a crowd of more than 150 people who showed up at the fire hall to support her bid for another term in office.

The campaign rally in Funkstown was the second part of a five-stop, statewide tour for Mikulski, who was elected senator in 1986. She was re-elected in 1992 and 1998.

Mikulski said she hopes to build bi-partisan cooperation in working to "make Maryland and America safer, stronger and smarter."

"Barbara Mikulski knows she can't do the job alone..." Mikulski told her supporters, many of whom clapped and yelled out praises during her speech.

She said she wants to create high-tech jobs in Western Maryland, double the amount of Pell grants given to students who need assistance paying for college, and give tax breaks to certain businesses and families with chronically ill loved ones.

Mikulski also said she's an advocate of an open federal government and that she would "huff and puff" to blow down its door to better serve Maryland's citizens.

"Every single day that I commute to Washington...I think about you every single day," Mikulski said. "In my heart...I say to myself, 'Good morning Maryland. How can I help you?'"

When asked by a reporter whether she was pleased with the redevelopment efforts of the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in Cascade, which resulted in the loss of about 2,000 jobs, Mikulski said, "I think it's slower than I wanted, but I think the economy has been slower."

Mikulski and U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., proposed a bill last year that would have sped up the transfer of some base property to the PenMar Development Corp.

The transfer would have accelerated a planned expansion of the International Masonry Institute, which is the base's largest tenant.

PenMar was created by the state in 1997 to redevelop the base, which the Army shut down in 1998.

The proposal failed and was removed from the 2004 National Defense Authorization Bill, because it did not receive the support of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., officials have said.

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