- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

Maryland Democrats pulled off a political coup in 2002, when they gerrymandered Republican Rep. Connie Morella of Montgomery County out of the 8th Congressional District seat she had held for 16 years. The political beneficiary of this generosity was Democrat Chris Van Hollen. The common wisdom has it that Republicans should not bother to contest a district like the 8th, which now includes Democratic strongholds. Yet, three Republicans are running in the March 2 primary. The best choice by far is a fresh face on the political scene: Chuck Floyd of Kensington, a retired military officer, former State Department employee and entrepreneur.

During his time in the military, Mr. Floyd served as a commander and worked in a variety of high-level positions, including the Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping force in the Middle East and the 25th Infantry Division overseeing logistical operations in Asia. He recently resigned his senior staff position at the State Department to run against Mr. Van Hollen.

Mr. Van Hollen has distinguished himself as one of the most strident critics of President Bush’s efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein. On Oct.17, for example, he took to the House floor to denounce the administration’s Iraq policy and oppose Mr. Bush’s request to fund U.S. military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq, saying he could not support the reconstruction money unless taxes were increased.

By contrast, Mr. Floyd switched from Democrat to Republican after retiring from the military in 1992, believing that the Democratic Party had drifted far to the left on defense and foreign policy. He plans to make Mr. Van Hollen’s hostility to the president’s Iraq policy one of his top campaign issues. Mr. Van Hollen, he says, “doesn’t understand that going after terrorists in their homeland is essential to winning the war” against terrorism.

Mr. Floyd also criticizes the freshman’s opposition to the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. He will also remind voters that, two years ago, then-state Sen. Van Hollen voted for the $1.3 billion Thornton school-funding plan without a funding source to pay for it. Mr. Floyd also disagrees with Mr. Van Hollen’s complaint that the president isn’t spending enough money on the No Child Left Behind program. Mr. Van Hollen, he says, doesn’t understand that “you can’t have everything at once.”

It is certainly true that the odds are stacked against any Republican running for this seat. But Chuck Floyd isn’t just any ordinary candidate. He is someone with a compelling personal story and a remarkable ability to articulate his principles. The Washington Times endorses Chuck Floyd for the Republican nomination in the 8th Congressional District.

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