Pipkin takes on Mikulski

Habitat offers 'Skins seats

July 30, 2004|by BOB MAGINNIS

After hearing that Gov. Parris Glendening wanted to dump spoils dredged from Baltimore Harbor into the Chesapeake Bay, E.J. Pipkin spent two years and more than $100,000 of his own money to defeat the plan.

State Sen. Walter Baker, D-Cecil, voted with Glendening, so Pipkin took him on and defeated him by 24 percentage points.

Now, a year and a half into his term, the Republican state senator is taking on another Democratic leader, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski. Has Pipkin's reach finally exceeded his grasp?

Time and the voters will tell, the 47-year-old native of Dundalk, Md., said in a Wednesday interview. Recruited by the party to challenge Mikulski, he initially said "no," but was convinced following the victory of a fellow Republican, Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

"I really believe the governor's race has changed the political landscape because it showed you can build a coalition and win statewide," he said.


Now Pipkin's challenge is to expose what he says are the unknowns in Mikulski's record by crisscrossing the state "20 hours a day, seven days a week."

What he's found so far, he said, is that Mikulski's image as fighter for the people, pounding her fists on the podium, is at odds with many of her votes.

In the last 10 years, he said, Mikulski has backed more than 300 tax increases and stood by as research done in the state has led to manufacturing jobs elsewhere because of Maryland's poor economic climate for manufacturing.

But Pipkin's platform also contains pledges to increase federal funding for the cleanup of Chesapeake Bay, boost military pay and create education tax credits and more prescription help for the elderly.

Asked where the funds would come for all those initiatives, given his anti-tax stand, Pipkin said he would apply the principles he learned as a businessperson to government.

In the Maryland General Assembly, he said he and a coalition of other lawmakers were able to push for changes in the state's procurement system.

It's a change in attitude, as much as anything else, that's needed, Pipkin said. In Annapolis, he said, the automatic reaction is not to budget what's needed to run a program, but to ask for as much as you think you can get.

But although he's anti-tax, he also describes himself as someone who's not doctrinaire. He believes growth is good, but that the environment has to be protected, too. He backs a woman's write to choose, except in the case of the procedure known as partial-birth abortion.

He is in favor of preserving Second Amendment rights, while saying that Mikul-ski is the "poster child for gun control." And he said he would not vote, as she has done, to bar votes on judges already vetted by the American Bar Association because someone believes they're "too religious."

In the hour he spent with us, Pipkin was energetic, amusing and down to earth, wearing a blue blazer that looked as if he'd slept in it, perhaps because, as an aide said, he'd started campaigning at sun-up in Harford County in the back of a pickup truck.

He is correct when he says the U.S. Senate is not a royal office, to which incumbents are entitled for life. Whether his energy and enthusiasm will make up for his lack of experience in public office is a question voters will have to answer in November.

A good friend has given me two tickets to the Washington Redskins' Aug 14 preseason game with the Carolina Panthers, in which running back Steven Davis may have his revenge on the 'Skins who scorned him.

I'm auctioning them off for the benefit of Habitat for Humanity. They're end-zone area club seats and include a special parking pass, so they're not cheap seats. You can get an idea of what they're selling for on or any other ticket-service Web site.

Send your bid to me at, or by regular mail to Bob Maginnis, The Herald-Mail, 100 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

The deadline is Monday, Aug. 9. I'll call the lucky bidder after 5 p.m. that day, so include a phone number.

Also, if you wrote a "Flag for a Vet" letter, flags will be available for pickup starting that same day, Monday, Aug, 9. If you're not in Timbuktu or the equivalent, I'll considering delivering your flag.

If you want to come to The Herald-Mail yourself, that would be great, but please let me know you're coming so I can check your name off a list that I have. Thank you.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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