- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

U.S. Rep. Constance A. Morella marked the end of what has been a remarkably polite race to represent Maryland's 8th District in Congress by suggesting yesterday that her Democratic opponent is trying to buy the election.

"Frankly, my opponent is saying the seat can be bought and should be because we have a lousy [Republican] Congress," Mrs. Morella, a Republican, said in an interview with reporters and editors of The Washington Times.

Democrat Terry Lierman already has invested at least $1.2 million of money earned from his health care and lobbying businesses to saturate the expensive Washington TV market with a variety of ads that carry the same message: A vote for him is not a vote against Mrs. Morella (whom he states in one spot "is a nice person"), but a vote that could put Democrats and liberal priorities back in control of Congress.

Mrs. Morella's centrist to liberal stances and voting record have earned her more than 60 percent of the vote in seven elections and made it difficult for Democrats to challenge her in the district that includes most of Montgomery County, even though 51 percent of voters there are registered Democrats.

Although she often votes outside her party's conservative fold, Mrs. Morella said Republicans in Congress frequently fail to claim credit when they should. Among their successes, she said, was passing a limited patient's bill of rights, making adoption easier, committing 90 percent of the surplus to paying off the national government's debt and making it difficult for a single member to amass too much power by limiting how long anyone can be chairman of one committee.

She said she agrees and votes with Republican leaders on fiscal issues but, in matters of social policy, her votes reflect the largely liberal views of her Montgomery County constituents.

On gun control, for instance, Mrs. Morella said she backs a "common-sense approach" to regulated firearm ownership that Handgun Control Inc. founder Sarah Brady said at an event earlier yesterday led the organization to endorse her over Mr. Lierman, who advocates banning handguns.

Mrs. Morella said she favors phasing out the five-day waiting period in states that agree to replace the delay with instant background checks.

On another social issue, she said she favors research on stem cells, available from fetal tissue, by private or government scientists, as long as it is done under National Institutes of Health guidelines because of the promise it holds for discovering treatments for Parkinson's disease and other maladies.

The contest to control Congress will be close, Mrs. Morella predicted, adding that the results will make people "in the middle" like herself more pivotal in decisions.

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