Congressional Hopeful Aims to Call Attention to Ron Paul's Candidacy

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 13, 2007

In the past few election cycles, Republicans haven't made much headway in Maryland's 4th Congressional District, which includes part of Montgomery County and most of Prince George's County.

But Peter James, 52, isn't running as just a regular Republican for the seat held by Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D). James is running as a Ron Paul Republican.

James said he is one of five congressional candidates running in Maryland at least in part to draw attention to the Texas representative, whose presidential campaign has been something of a grass-roots phenomenon. Paul advocates libertarian positions, including the abolishment of the federal income tax and the closure of many federal agencies. He opposes the war in Iraq.

James, a businessman from Germantown, said Paul will need allies in Congress if elected president. But, James said, even if his presidential candidate loses, the "Ron Paul message is stronger than the man himself."

James acknowledged running with an "R" after his name will be tough, but he said at least a third of those who attend local weekly Ron Paul meet-ups identify themselves as liberal Democrats concerned with the growth of the federal government.

"We're seeing disenchanted Democrats, who say 'whether I elect Giuliani or Hillary, I'm getting the same thing,' " James said, referring to Republican hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). "I believe there's a very strong contingent of voters out there who have been woken up by this message."

More Students Are Vaccinated

The number of Prince George's County students who have not met the state's immunization requirements dropped by more than half over the past month after State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) threatened students' parents with fines and possible jail time, a school system spokesman said Monday.

Spokesman John White said that 1,084 students had not received a full program of shots for chicken pox and hepatitis B as of Saturday. This was a significant improvement over the situation Nov. 13, when Ivey and school officials sent a letter to the parents of more than 2,300 students warning that they could face a $50 fine for each day they were out of compliance or up to 10 days in jail.

"The letter certainly got people's attention," White said. "It had the desired effect."

Many parents reported to free clinics to get their children the vaccines; others provided proof that they'd gotten the immunizations in the past. Parents may also request medical and religious exemptions from the immunization requirement, which the state put into effect in January.

Of those who have not gotten immunized, White said slightly more than 700 students' parents -- what White called "chronic" cases where there is no sign that they have made an effort to get immunized or provide an exemption -- have been referred to Ivey's office for possible legal action.

Ramon V. Korionoff, a spokesman for Ivey's office, said last week that no parents had been fined or jailed.

Jackson Assails Foreclosures

Jesse L. Jackson started his speech on the disparities involved in the foreclosure crisis by rattling off foreclosure data from Maryland.

Using information from the Center for Responsible Lending, Jackson said the projected number of homes ultimately lost through foreclosure in Baltimore County from 2005 to 2006 was 5,347. In Charles County, there were 1,629. Howard County had 968.

In Prince George's County, he said, there were 13,172 foreclosures.

That prompted gasps from about 75 people attending the town-hall style meeting at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington.

"This is especially affecting Prince George's County," Jackson said. "This is a big deal. Something like this could sink whole cities."

The civil rights activist, who scheduled rallies across the country Monday on institutions involved in the mortgage industry, said: "Forty years ago we were marching for open housing. Now we're marching against foreclosures and losing our housing."

After a brief speech, Jackson opened up the floor to questions, prompting a couple of responses. A woman said many of her friends were refinancing, and she wondered whether some banks should be avoided.

Jackson said most lenders offer subprime loans, which often are made to borrowers with spotty credit. Some just do it more often than others, he said.

Another woman said she didn't know anyone whose home was in foreclosure, but she knew many people who were having difficulty paying their mortgages.

Zaunder Saucer, a member of Ebenezer, said she attended the meeting to be educated about the situation for herself and others. "I want to be aware of what's going on," Saucer said. "I want to know if I could fall into that category."

Staff writer Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.

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