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ELECTION 2002: MARYLAND
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: A Candidate To Be Proud Of
October 3, 2002
By James M. Kehl

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert and Ethel Kennedy's oldest daughter, is currently Maryland's Lieutenant Governor and the Democratic Party's nominee for governor. She is a member of a very successful administration. According to the Maryland Budget & Policy Institute of Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland ranks 48th lowest in the nation for total state, local and federal tax revenues spent on government compared to the state's economy.

Maryland is one of only 5 states where such revenues have declined over the last 20 years. When compiling just state and local tax collections, Maryland ranks 38th with collections having fallen 7% since 1979 when compared to economic growth. Maryland's average median income of $55,013 is second only to Alaska's average median income of $55,426.

Maryland ranks 1st in the nation in high school graduation rates and fifth in the nation in SAT scores compared to states where the vast majority of students take the SAT test. Maryland's poverty rate is 7.2% compared to the U. S. average of 12.3%. During the last eight years, Maryland has risen from 41st to 15th in job growth.

During the last 7 years, nearly 13,000 new businesses and over 250,000 new jobs were created in Maryland. Gun violence is down 40% since 1995; violent crime is down 18% since 1995; and juvenile crime is down 22% since 1996. Maryland has a $500 million reserve that was built through fiscally sound practices and that is currently being used to help Maryland weather this recession.

In short, despite what gloomy Bob says, Maryland is a great state and in good shape. It has some challenges, but everything and everyone does.

The Weekly Standard, of all publications, recently reported that Kathleen is a magna cum laude Harvard graduate. It continually amazes me that people question Kathleen's intelligence even after being informed of this fact. When I ask those same people the names of the universities that they received their magna cum laude degrees from, they are strangely silent. I suppose that question causes them to lose their voices. They then talk about " street smarts." If these people have street smarts, I would say they need more education. I doubt they have been on an inner city street in years.

Kathleen is currently married to David Townsend, a native Baltimorean who was a senior at Loyola College of Baltimore when I was a freshman. Like Bob Ehrlich, we both had scholarships. We just don't talk about them because we accomplished other things in our lives. David is currently a professor at St. John's College in Annapolis. I believe that David and Kathleen have lived in Maryland for about 24 years. Yet some of our intellectual citizens still say Kathleen is a carpetbagger (one of those folks is in the Ehrlich campaign though. Ehrlich's spokesman recently said "there isn't many intellectuals" in that campaign. They didn't have to work too hard to convince me of that fact.).

I think that David and Kathleen both have a great sense of humor. I am probably one of the few people who is more interested in the Townsend side of Kathleen's family as opposed to that other side. Kathleen and David have four daughters, one of whom I believe is currently teaching in Mozambique. Recently, I read where Republican Delegate Flanagan of Howard County said some nasty things about Kathleen. I wonder if any of Flanagan's children are doing anything so unselfish? It is easy to take cheap shots at someone. Much harder to do something worthwhile yourself.

One of the aspects about Kathleen that continually amazes me is that she is even in politics. Who needs to put up with the grind, the criticism and all of the other things that make politics so hard. Many people who are part of the "me-me" Republican culture would never have even entered politics had they been in her circumstances. However, I think that Kathleen sincerely believes in public service and the old adage that much is expected of those to whom much is given. Kathleen has been surrounded by fame, money and power her entire life. Unlike her opponent, these things don't fascinate her.

Kathleen has shown pragmatism and character in decision making. She selected a very qualified running mate in Admiral Larson. She took political heat for that decision. The fact that a person of Admiral Larson's caliber would join her ticket should tell you something about Kathleen. Kathleen's opponent announced his running mate and then, I am told, ran out to Caves Road to play golf with his largest contributors. He couldn't wait to get out of town.

Kathleen is opposed to slots as a means of solving Maryland's budget problems because studies have indicated the negative impact gambling has on communities. Kathleen's opponent discussed "tough medicine" and then endorsed slot revenues as the salvation for Maryland's budget problems.

Kathleen has proposed a sensible budget to deal with the recession. As a result of his years in legislative bodies catering to the whims of Newt Gingrich, the NRA and Tom DeLay, Kathleen's opponent proposed a " cocktail napkin" budget. Must be why he is supposed to be such a great guy to have drinks with. He can solve all of the State's problems at the nearest watering hole. Just ask Sam Malone of Cheers.

Kathleen has spent her entire career in public service fighting for civil rights, seniors, education, drug treatment and generally the less fortunate of our society. Kathleen's opponent was "casting votes," a noble activity which really qualifies you to be governor, and generally advancing his own self-interest. He eventually, by his own account, learned to change a diaper. If he can't get slots in Md., maybe he will balance the budget by using his recently developed diaper skills.

When push comes to shove, I want a person of Kathleen's character who is immune to the lures of money, fame and power making the hard decisions. She is human and may make mistakes. We all do. However, I sincerely believe she cares for people and that she will always do what she believes is right regardless of the circumstances. What about her opponent and his self-praised unique experience of casting votes? When he isn't busy honing his diaper skills and thinking about Kathleen's alleged stock portfolio (e must not have looked at the current market he and his idol Bush have caused. If he had, he would quickly understand that none of us want to think about stock portfolios), he seems to be one confused person.

He votes like Newt Gingrich and then calls himself a moderate. He votes against education, has a child and then discovers education is important. He promises evidence to back up his assertions and then says the very next day that the information is confidential. They must not have told him at Caves Road that one doesn't talk about confidential information. He talks about a new culture and new ideas and then goes and surrounds himself with old Maryland pols. He wants to arrange debates, but instead of calling up the proper people and making the arrangements, he e-mails the people and encloses a copy of the e-mail to the SUN. Doing things through the newspapers is a great way to get things done.

He has no executive experience and then wants to be chief executive of the state of Maryland. Oh, I forgot. Those 16 years of casting votes qualify him for anything. He says he wants to do things for people and then subtly discloses that he is "outside his comfort zone" with certain people. He talks about opportunity , tough medicine and values, then rests the entire State's budget on slot revenues.

He has a right to be confused and to have an identity crisis. I just don't want a governor like that. And I think Kathleen's eight years of experience in Annapolis as second-in-command of a successful administration may make her more qualified to be governor. Let Bob work on his self-confusion with his non-intellectual supporters. I wish him the best. I just don't want him in the governor's mansions dealing with this and upgrading his diaper skills.

This is why I wholeheartedly support Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Maryland needs a governor with character and integrity who knows the job. I urge all Marylanders to do their best to see that she is elected governor.


James M. Kehl resides in Baltimore City.

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