- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Maryland state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, a Republican, yesterday said he would not be challenging U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Democrat, for her seat if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had not become the first Republican to win that office in more than 30 years.

“In my mind, what the governor did two years ago was commit a sea-change event in Maryland politics,” Mr. Pipkin said during a meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “He showed that a Republican can run statewide and build a coalition of Republicans, Democrats and independents and win …

“The monopoly is finally broken in Maryland, and we are going to evolve into a true two-party system … ,” the Caroline County Republican said. “I view my race for the United States Senate the next step in that process.”

A self-made millionaire with a blue-collar background, Mr. Pipkin noted Miss Mikulski’s name recognition from her having served 10 years in the House and 18 years in the Senate. He also acknowledged that Miss Mikulski is a formidable incumbent, pointing out that he already has spent more than $1 million on his campaign.

But Mr. Pipkin, 48, said most voters are not aware of how Miss Mikulski, 68, has voted on various issues, adding that her popularity and power have not improved things in Maryland, especially the Chesapeake Bay. He said she has not done enough to garner federal funds for Bay initiatives.

“When you look back, Barbara Mikulski has been in Washington 28 years . … Is the Chesapeake Bay better off today than it was 28 years ago?” said Mr. Pipkin, who once founded a grass-roots group to bar dredging in the Bay. “Absolutely not, that’s the answer.”

He contrasted his position on various issues with those of Miss Mikulski:

• On the war in Iraq, Mr. Pipkin said he supports President Bush’s decision to topple dictator Saddam Hussein, even though no weapons of mass destruction have been found and there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“I think when the president, whether it is a Democrat or Republican, comes to the Senate and asks for powers to go to war, you set politics aside,” he said. “And Barbara Mikulski didn’t do that.”

• He said he supports defense spending and military pay raises, noting that Miss Mikulski has voted against such initiatives on several occasions.

Mr. Pipkin also voiced support for charter schools, tougher immigration laws, a ban on partial-birth abortions and individual investment accounts for Social Security, a plan proffered by Mr. Bush.

• On same-sex “marriages,” he said he would support a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between “one man and one woman.”

“This is an important social issue,” he said.

In a state in which Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, Mr. Pipkin said he thinks that his message can attract enough Democrats to unseat the veteran senator. He also pointed out that he is the first Republican elected official to challenge a Democratic senator in years, adding that he would not be in the race if he didn’t think he could win.

He said he has talked to many Marylanders who say it’s time for a change.

“Senators aren’t royalty,” Mr. Pipkin said. “These people need to be run against. … They need to be able to defend their voting record to the citizens of Maryland.”

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