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September 15, 2006

Unanswered Questions

Derek Shackelford

As the primary election is now over, the focus now turns to the general election on November 7. One of the more compelling races in the State of Maryland is the Senate race.

This standoff will pit Democrat Congressman Ben Cardin against Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. This seat was vacated by retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

These men not only have name recognition but also the financial backing that may come as a surprise to many voters. The political landscape does require a candidate to raise money. In many instances, whoever who raises the most money increases the likelihood for victory.

Money is used to get the message out to the voters - Democrats, Republicans and Declines. Candidates use radio, television, print advertisements, literature and their respective supporters to articulate their message.

Both Mr. Cardin and Mr. Steele have attempted to differentiate themselves ideologically while maintaining that both believe in helping the working family. The many sound bites indicate that both are concerned about everyday, hardworking people.

The media, to some degree, has let both candidates go unscathed by failing to ask the tough questions the answers to which Marylanders need to hear. But when one puts their message on the paralysis of analysis compared to their financial backing, a different set of answers need to be given.

Ben Cardin runs on a platform "that he always tries to do what's right, what's in the best interest of Maryland families, taking on the drug companies, the oil companies, and the insurance companies." However, the financial support for his campaign does not demonstrate such.

He has accepted checks from oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The amount garnered from these political action committees is $874,826; and all seek to push their own agenda.

Republican Michael Steele also states in his message that "he will talk straight about what's wrong in both parties. You know, to get a different kind of government, your going need a different kind of senator."

The Steele campaign has held fundraisers hosted by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. His campaign has accepted $613,578 from political action committees according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

While these November 7 opponents represent that they stand up for working families and challenge the status, somehow the message does not match the money. If you want to really know about candidates, follow the money.

Representative Cardin says that he will do what's in the best interest of Maryland families. Lieutenant Governor Steele says that he will tell us what's wrong with both parties and give us a different kind of government.

With rising medical costs, high gas prices, and many Marylanders without health insurance, the question that needs to be answered is how do you intend to stand up for working people when your campaign finances suggest otherwise?

If these two candidates can answer these questions truthfully, then maybe I will think about voting for one of them - based on their answers. Until then I won't hold my breath.

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