- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BALTIMORE — Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin yesterday announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, saying if elected he would oppose the policies of President Bush.

“Today we face an administration with the wrong priorities,” Mr. Cardin, a Democrat, told about 200 supporters at the Baltimore Museum of Industry near the city’s Inner Harbor “I will be a senator with the right priorities.”

Mr. Cardin, a former House speaker in the General Assembly and 10-term congressman, also vowed to fight the Bush administration’s plan to change the Social Security system.

“I believe in an America that keeps its promises,” he said. “I will work to ensure that Social Security remains a guaranteed benefit for our elderly and disabled. I will fight any attempt to weaken it by diverting money into private accounts.”

Mr. Cardin, 61, also listed among his top priorities: affordable health care, good-paying jobs and education.

He is the second Democrat to enter the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Democrat and Maryland’s longest-serving senator.

Kweisi Mfume, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and five-term congressman, joined the race March 14.

A. Robert Kaufman, a civic activist who has made several unsuccessful runs for office, also is a candidate for the nomination.

Other Democrats such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen are also considering a run.

A poll earlier this month showed a close race for the Democratic primary and in a hypothetical general election matchup with Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican who is considering a run. The poll found that in a matchup against Mr. Steele, Mr. Cardin would fare better than Mr. Mfume and Mr. Van Hollen, edging Mr. Steele by 4 points. Against the other two Democrats, Mr. Steele was in a statistical tie in the poll.

Among the supporters at the harborside announcement were union officials, Baltimore City Council member Kenneth N. Harris Sr. and former state Sen. Nathan C. Irby Jr., both Democrats.

Ernie Grecco, president of the AFL-CIO Metropolitan Baltimore Council, described Mr. Cardin as “a friend of working men and women for many, many years.”

“I’m just glad we have a couple people of his caliber in the race,” he said.

Mr. Cardin touted his record in the U.S. House, where he represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Baltimore city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties.

“I stand here today because experience does count,” he said.

Mr. Cardin said his years on Capitol Hill had taught him when to forge alliances with Republicans and when to stand firm in opposition, experience that qualify him to take over from Mr. Sarbanes.

“Together with Senator Barbara Mikulski, I intend to carry on the work of Paul Sarbanes,” Mr. Cardin said. “Working together we have made the [Chesapeake] Bay cleaner. We have made our streets safer, and we have increased economic opportunities.”

After the announcement, Mr. Cardin traveled to Frederick to meet with former state House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and Frederick residents. He then visited Silver Spring for a public forum on health care and Social Security.

mThis article is based in part on wire service reports.

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