Term: 2 years Salary: $96,600

QUESTION: What change or reform would most improve the performance of Congress?


(1 seat)

Benjamin L. Cardin (Democrat)

Harwood Nichols (Republican)

Benjamin L. Cardin (D)

2509 Shelleydale Dr., Baltimore

Age: 47


Member, U.S. House of Representatives, 1987-present; House Ways and Means Committee, 1989-present; speaker, Maryland General Assembly, 1979-86; chairman, Maryland Legal Services Corp., 1988-present; trustee, St. Mary's College, 1988-present; trustee, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1988-present.

A. Congress needs to enact comprehensive campaign finance reform. Campaigns have become too expensive, and campaign fund-raising consumes too much of members' time. The public clearly believes special-interest money has too much influence in the political process. To correct these problems, Congress should enact public financing of congressional campaigns, with limits on how much candidates can spend. The amount political action committees and individuals can contribute should be significantly reduced. Congress also needs to enact budget reform. A two-year budget would help. Enforceable deadlines need to be incorporated into the budget process. The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law has not worked and should be repealed. The House of Representatives also would be more efficient and effective if it reduced the number of committees and subcommittees on which members serve. Such a change would enable a member to concentrate on his or her committee work with fewer distractions.

Harwood Nichols (R)

4608 Cedar Garden Rd., Baltimore

Age: 48

Vice president, First National Bank of Maryland; graduate of U.S. Military Academy at West Point, 1964; Vietnam veteran, awarded Silver Star and Purple Heart; master's degree in finance, American University; member, St. Joseph's Monastery Parish Council and Mayor's Commission on Energy Conservation; author of "Money Sense," a parents' guide to family finance.

A. The Democratic Party's 35-year control of Congress must come to an end. Only by returning a Republican majority to Congress can the voters compel the legislature to act decisively and responsibly on a wide range of domestic issues. Crime rates, drug abuse, education, the environment and the budget are all problems that remain unresolved to the satisfaction of the American people. Scandalous campaign financing laws and other incumbent advantages have destroyed the voters' faith in our representative form of government, which is manifested in dangerously low voter turnout. Special interests have dominated the legislative agenda to their own benefit and to the detriment of the public good. Defense and industrial corporations have poured millions into congressional campaign coffers and in return have received wasteful government contracts and regulations that inadequately guard the environment. The worst example of special-interest legislation was the $100,000 federal guarantee of S&L deposits that has resulted in a half-a-trillion- dollar liability to the American taxpayer.