MARYLAND'S UNIFORMLY Democratic local congressional delegation features three well-regarded veterans and one capable newcomer, all of whom have served this region ably. We endorse them all.
Through 18 years in the Senate and 10 before that in the House, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski has offered Marylanders a split image. One Sen. Mikulski -- by turns jolly, truculent and just-plain-folksy -- is cartoonishly appealing. The other Sen. Mikulski -- parochial, street-smart, pragmatic -- is closer to her actual persona in the Senate, where she is regarded as a skilled infighter. We appreciate Sen. Mikulski in either guise. She has been a key sponsor or proponent of legislation to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, help victims of Alzheimer's disease, provide benefits to veterans and promote NASA. From her seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, she has steered projects and programs to her state. Her opponent, Republican state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Queen Anne's), has served in the Maryland legislature for only two years. A wealthy former bond trader who is financing most of his own campaign, he is smart and tenacious but offers little beyond tax-cutting GOP orthodoxy and misleading attacks on Ms. Mikulski's record, particularly her votes on taxes.
In the heavily Democratic 4th Congressional District, which includes eastern Montgomery County and most of Prince George's County, six-term incumbent Rep. Albert R. Wynn faces only slight opposition from John R. McKinnis, a 30-year-old businessman. Mr. Wynn is active in local political affairs -- a little too active for some critics, who contend he should stick to federal issues in Congress. But he is a solid representative who has earned reelection.
In the 5th District, which includes Southern Maryland and a chunk of Prince George's, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, is in a cakewalk against Republican Brad Jewitt, who was briefly mayor of the small town of Berwyn Heights. Mr. Hoyer, a 22-year incumbent, is a powerful Capitol Hill insider who has championed federal employees, a key part of his constituency, and the disabled while working well across the aisle. He has been a key patron of two important military installations in his district, Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head.
In the 8th District, which includes western Montgomery and a sliver of Prince George's, incumbent Rep. Chris Van Hollen was elected just two years ago but has distinguished himself as a shrewd legislative player in a Congress where freshman Democrats are dealt a weak hand. Mr. Van Hollen, exceptionally accomplished as a state senator before running for Congress, helped cast a spotlight on a loophole that was milking the federal government of hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to the student loan industry. In several instances he has teamed up with Republican allies on behalf of good causes. Mr. Van Hollen's Republican opponent, retired Army officer Charles R. Floyd, is an unimpressive candidate who has lived in the district less than two years. He has no legislative experience, tissue-thin knowledge of the issues and a careless way with facts. In a district that was admirably represented by moderate Republican Constance A. Morella until two years ago, it's disheartening that the GOP cannot field a better candidate.