"That's when I decided to run for state Senate," he recalled. Pipkin put together a coalition of environmentalists and local Republicans eager to dislodge Baker, 75, an Elkton Democrat who had held the seat for more than 20 years.
"I was given absolutely no chance to win that race," Pipkin recalled.
Sen. E.J. Pipkin's anti-tax theme is one of several basic messages he has tried to convey in his U.S. Senate race against Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski in Maryland.
(Marvin Joseph - The Washington Post)
Born: Nov. 1, 1956, Baltimore.
Education: BA, Roanoke College, 1978; MBA, University of Virginia, 1982.
Career: Bond trader on Wall Street; state senator (R-Queen Anne's).
Family: Married, three children.
Campaign theme: "I don't believe that we have a revenue problem in government. I think we have a spending and how we spend problem."
At 6-foot-2, the former college lacrosse player struck an imposing figure on the campaign trail. Pipkin says he knocked on 10,000 doors, and stood in traffic waving to voters and holding signs. He also spent about $600,000 of his own money, an unprecedented amount for a state Senate seat that pays $37,500.
Late in the race, as Democrats realized that Baker might actually lose, Miller and others began to mobilize. Pipkin won by about 24 percentage points.
"He is a pretty tenacious fighter, definitely laser focused," said Susan Brown, executive director of the Maryland branch of the League of Conservation Voters, who got to know Pipkin during the fight against open dumping in the bay.
Pipkin was the only one of the Eastern Shore's four state senators who didn't have a long history in local politics. He joined the Finance Committee and dug in to learn the ways of the General Assembly.
Although he enjoyed support from environmentalists in his campaign, his overall voting record in the Senate has not been that friendly to their cause. He scored a 53 out of 100 on the League of Conservation Voters' annual report card -- lower than most Democrats and some Republicans. "Where I come from, that's an F," said state Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat who routinely scores 100 percent on environmental scorecards.
The major environmental groups have endorsed Mikulski, something that Pipkin says disappoints him but doesn't surprise him. U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (R) recently wrote a letter on Pipkin's behalf, strongly suggesting that Pipkin's credentials were far more pro-environment than Mikulski's, particularly during the fight over open bay dumping.
Brown, of the Maryland branch of the League of Conservation Voters, also praised Pipkin for helping the group with its agenda in Annapolis. She cited his efforts in 2003 to try to broker a deal in which Ehrlich would have withdrawn his nomination of Lynn Buhl to head the state's environmental agency. Buhl's background, which included 10 years as an attorney for the auto maker now known as Daimler-Chrysler, made her unacceptable to the environmental camp.
The nomination was defeated, and Pipkin voted for her in the end, which Brown said she understood. "That wasn't an easy vote for him. You don't, out of the box, want to disagree with your governor on something like this."
"He certainly tried to help," she said. "He got some dialogue going with the governor."
This year, Pipkin focused on electric utility deregulation, holding a hearing that brought out utility companies in force. Pipkin was worried that rates would rise with deregulation, and Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus believes his hearing helped keep them down.
"Had he not put the spotlight on it, the whole state of Maryland would have paid more," he said.
Some 'Political Advice'
Pipkin seems to thrive on talk. As he winds down from busy campaign days, he often gets on the phone with friends and supporters. These calls frequently come after 11 p.m.
"He'll be waking me up, asking me for political advice," Welsh said. "Sometimes it is, 'Please tell me if you think I am crazy.' I'm a sounding board."
State Republicans are pleased by the race Pipkin has run. Carol Hirschburg, a GOP consultant not involved in Pipkin's campaign, said his money and his energy will help the party in the state, no matter what the outcome on Nov. 2
"The rank and file are always grateful to someone who takes on an incumbent and makes a good show. It may be that this isn't his race," she said. "But another one will be."
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.
A profile of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is available at www.washingtonpost.com/metro.