By Kate Froehlich
Special to The Dagger
Jim Rutledge and Daniel McAndrew live just 10 miles apart, in White Hall and Forest Hill, respectively. But the distance between their campaigns to unseat long-time Senator Barbara Mikulski seems much further.
While both Republicans align closely with the national GOP platform, Rutledge said he’s confident he’ll be his party’s nominee to face Mikulski in November, while McAndrew hopes to fix the policy mistakes in DC, but doesn’t expect to win.
The candidates, according to McAndrew, have “met each other.” He added, “Since this business of running for this office, we’ve crossed paths. He seems like a nice guy. That’s fine on the surface, but because I don’t know him beyond these once in a while meetings, I don’t know how good a man he is really. My approach is may the better man win.”
In the race against Mikulski, who has consistently won her seat by an average of 73.3 percent over her GOP opponents, McAndew acknowledges that he will “probably not” win. However, “at the same time, it’s not making me back down.”
Rutledge, however, was more sure of his chances. “I believe I will be the nominee for the party,” he said. “We have the strongest grassroots and bona fide campaign. We have the strong base in the key counties which are going to turn the primary election.”
Rutledge said Mikulski has drawn negative reactions in recent polls, polling more than 50 percent “unfavorable” with the Maryland population. He also pointed to what he called a movement to unseat “incumbents and career politicians.”
“[Mikulski is the] queen of this. She’s served on the throne of Maryland for longer than Queen Elizabeth served in England. We’re not supposed to have an aristocracy,” Rutledge said. “She has the long term career politician anchor around her neck this year. It’s lining up to make my chances very good.”
McAndrew made the decision to seek election “basically after paying attention to what was going on for the past few years, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t trust people in power [and seeing them] make decisions that I know are wrong.”
Rutledge is running because “we’re at a critical time in America to stand up and preserve what made this country great. I love the people of Maryland and have deep roots in state of Maryland. I want to fight for my family, neighbors, and friends to preserve those liberties.”
He added, “Everything we hold dear to us is held threat in Washington DC. Mikulski is the number one culprit in these events and needs to be defeated.”
Both candidates are running for office for the first time.
McAndrew has previously helped with a friend’s campaign and “learned an awful lot” in the process.
Rutledge said he is “no newcomer to the concept of persuading people to get out and vote.” He said, “I am an active citizen and voter. I worked in campaigns for candidates, was involved in campaign management as well as the production of messaging and advertising, and did grassroots organization for statewide and federal offices.”
McAndrew said his job as a principal engineer for Northrop Grumman, would benefit him as he enters politics. “A whole part of my job is to save customers money,” he said.
Rutledge, who has worked as an attorney since 1986, said, “[I have worked with] federal law, federal regulatory law, constitutional law, business law, tax law, as well as trade law issues. All of those things are front and center in the US Senate.”
That experience will “equip me to read [a] bill, understand the bill, and translate the impact of the bill to plain English for the citizens of Maryland. Given my significant experience with the judiciary, I have a front-end view of how the courts view what the legislature does.”
To prepare for the primaries, McAndrew is “just traveling around the state, meeting with various Republican clubs [and] other club. I actually have another aspect – I spoke at a Libertarian convention because [they found out that I was] behind a website that talks about the Maryland Constitutional Convention. They contacted me to give them details and let them know what to expect.”
Rutledge said that his campaign has “momentum” and has “been dramatically picking up over the state.” He calls his campaign the “best grassroots team this state has seen in a long time,” and has been “taking that message out directly to the people or using technology to the maximum, as well as just hard, traditional campaigning [like] signs [and] sign waving.”
He particularly hopes to focus on the “overwhelming expansion of federal government,” through “its debt of $13 trillion dollars, deficit spending of over $1.3 trillion, and expansion of tax burdens and regulatory burdens.”
In particular, Rutledge sees problems with border protection, saying “We don’t guard own borders, but guard the border of Iraq and Syria.” He supports the completion of the Mexico-U.S. border fence: “The fence works in Southern California which is why Arizona has been flooded [with illegal immigrants].”
McAndrew cites a lack of financial controls and the recent passage of President Obama’s health care reform as examples of “things that are happening right now that have to be stopped right now dead in its tracks and reversed.”
However, McAndrew said that “the economy and jobs” are the most serious problems facing the state. He cites Northrop Grumman’s choice to move its corporate headquarters to Virginia instead of Maryland as a key example: “The state [Maryland] doesn’t take a long term view. They should have offered [more] or matched the Virginia package.”
“The relocation of a company from one state to another means a shot in the arm for economy because more people can be hired here, not to mention the people that would come from the West Coast to jobs over here,” McAndrew said.
According to McAndrew, what makes him different from others in the race is that “I don’t trust the other politicians.”
“I don’t really know my competition that well so I’m not sure that I would trust them either,” he added. “I’m not in this for the glory or money. I’m in this because I want someone to stand up for others and fix it and get it right.”
“I’m definitely a conservative. I’m an American first, conservative second, [and] Republican last. The Republican Party on the national level doesn’t know me. Even the state level is just beginning to get to know me. There is no vested interest with any control over me. I have complete freedom to tell the truth,” McAndrew said.
About what he brings to the race, Rutledge said, “I’m the clear cut conservative, as far as being a Constitutional conservative. I would encourage people to go to my Web site and encourage folks to see where I’m going to be speaking and to go out and hear me speak and ask me questions. I am confident that they will join my campaign.”
Rutledge for U.S. Senate Web site
David McAndrew’s Web site