For Congress in Maryland

Saturday, October 25, 2008

WHEN VOTERS in Maryland's 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Prince George's County into Montgomery, dislodged Rep. Albert R. Wynn in the Democratic primary this year, they put considerable faith in the potential of an energetic but untested newcomer, Donna F. Edwards. Ms. Edwards, a civic activist, had proved herself to be an effective advocate for causes such as raising the minimum wage and curbing domestic violence. But could she produce results in Washington? Four months into her service, which began when Mr. Wynn resigned and she won a special election, Ms. Edwards has shown that she deserves a full term in Congress.

We've disagreed with some of her votes: against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, for example, and against the first version of the $700 billion rescue plan for the ailing economy. But Ms. Edwards supported the final version of the rescue after asking some reasonable questions about it. She has impressed colleagues and constituents as someone likely to become an effective advocate for the region on Capitol Hill. Her opponent, Republican Peter James, is a crusader against deficit spending who endorses such extreme remedies as abolishing the Federal Reserve and who has issued a local currency to underscore his point. The currency hasn't caught on; neither should his candidacy.

In Maryland's 8th District, comprised mostly of Montgomery County with a smaller portion of Prince George's, Republican challenger Steven J. Hudson, an ophthalmologist, is a credible candidate with an admirable record of military service. But he faces three-term Democrat Chris Van Hollen, a political juggernaut who has represented his district effectively while overseeing his party's House campaigns nationwide. Mr. Hudson has attempted to turn Mr. Van Hollen's leadership role into a millstone, claiming that the incumbent is a blind partisan more focused on far-flung races than his own district. In fact, Mr. Van Hollen has deftly balanced both responsibilities, and his constituents benefit from his national stature. Mr. Van Hollen reached across party lines to help deliver $1.5 billion in funding for Metro and has fought to keep thousands of federal jobs from leaving Rockville. He deserves reelection.

A similar showdown is unfolding in Maryland's 5th District, where a likable challenger, Republican Collins A. Bailey, is attempting to unseat an accomplished incumbent, Democrat Steny H. Hoyer. As a longtime member of the Charles County Board of Education, Mr. Bailey has done an admirable job of managing the county's schools. But his doctrinaire interpretation of the Constitution makes Ron Paul sound like a loose constructionist. Mr. Hoyer, who has represented the district with distinction since 1981 and has served as House majority leader since the 2006 Democratic takeover, is the superior choice. Mr. Hoyer's pragmatic leadership on national issues has produced compromises on key issues, including the federal surveillance bill and the financial rescue plan. His sway has meant millions in federal dollars for the district, which stretches from Greenbelt to southern St. Mary's County.

In an earlier editorial, we endorsed Democrat Frank M. Kratovil in Maryland's 1st Congressional District. Mr. Kratovil, the Queen Anne's County state's attorney, is vying with Republican state Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County). Mr. Kratovil, a promising, pragmatic leader, is the clear choice to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company