July 28, 2011

McDonough switches gears, may run against Cardin

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Del. Pat McDonough

Del. Pat McDonough

So what is Pat McDonough running for this week? Would you believe U.S. Senate?

McDonough, a three-term Republican delegate from Middle River, has been talking for months about challenging Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd Congressional District.

McDonough said Thursday that would be an “uphill battle” but “a winnable race” given his long exposure on Baltimore talk radio and television. But if the Democrats start monkeying with the district lines and the 2nd District turns from uphill to “impossible,” he’ll try to be the Republican nominee against Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin.

“My desire is to go Washington,” McDonough said. “It’s immaterial whether I go as a representative or a U.S. senator.” Why Washington? Because it’s “a mess” and “I believe I can make a difference.”

McDonough also wants to take advantage of the high visibility he got from being a leader of the petition drive against in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, the target of his wrath for years.

“The act is going to be on the ballot and so is Pat McDonough,” he said. McDonough has campaigned for office with not-so-subtle signs saying, “Speak English.”

McDonough, 68, a month older than Cardin, is nothing if not flexible. He started his political career in 1979 as a Democratic member of the House of Delegates from East Baltimore. He lost a reelection bid.

McDonough moved to the county and the Republican Party, getting elected to the House again in 2002.

Last year, he explored running for governor, saying he would get out of the race if ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich got in. Ehrlich did; McDonough didn’t.

Then McDonough talked about running for Baltimore County Executive – at the urging of others, he said — but “I decided it was not the right race.” He also toyed informally on running for the state Senate seat Andy Harris was giving up. Instead, he played it safe and ran again for delegate.

“My critics will falsely charge that this [year’s] plan may be indecisive,” making much of his varied ambitions, he said. “It’s all nonsense.”

So far, he hasn’t seen “a viable candidate” who can beat Cardin, but said, “I’m not going to comment on other candidates.”

“This is still early in the political season,” he said.

What would he do if he were in Congress right now?

“I would negotiate a debt crisis solution that cuts spending dramatically. It is the last debt ceiling I would ever vote for. I think we should use the debt ceiling as the starting point for solving the spending problem in Washington.”

McDonough touts his leadership on illegal immigration and overspending. He pointed out that in 2006 he was one of only five Republicans who voted against Ehrlich’s last and highest budget. This year, all but one of the 43 House Republicans voted against O’Malley’s budget.

–Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com