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Herald-Mail Endorsement - Cardin for U.S. Senate

October 16, 2006

Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D) and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) - the candidates seeking the seat of retiring Sen. U.S. Sen Paul Sarbanes - might be best known to Western Marylanders for their dueling puppy dog ads.

But fluff aside, Cardin offers a solid, documented track record of sound policy, while Steele has yet to define himself for the voters.

Admittedly, running as an outsider when your party has a lock on insider status allows for little wiggle room. Steele has consequently been tiptoeing a tough line, hoping voters will notice his winning personality and ignore the fact that he hasn't said much of substance about much of anything.

Even on his own Web site, his positions on the issues are little more than one-sentence boilerplate, including nuggets such as "Michael is committed to promoting high ethical standards in Washington."

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While Steele is in the uncomfortable position of distancing himself from the Washington Republican establishment without offending the Washington Republican establishment, Cardin is dealing from the position of a legitimate voice against current policy.

Before it was politically fashionable to oppose the war, Cardin voted against the resolution that authorized President Bush to invade Iraq.

He also has taken issue with the president's plan to privatize Social Security, although instead of simply saying "no" he offered alternatives, including a strengthening of private, tax-deferred or tax-free savings vehicles.

Cardin has delivered for Maryland with transportation and environmental funding, and has been a strong voice for education and health care reform. A former Speaker in the Maryland House of Delegates, Cardin has demonstrated an ability to rise through the ranks, an invaluable asset in Washington, where back-benchers are routinely overlooked and do little more than bring home a paycheck.

Cardin's ability to deliver, his voice of reasoned opposition to current Washington policy, solid track record and demonstrated leadership make him deserving of becoming Maryland's next U.S. Senator.

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