0
Votes

This Week in Potomac 7-13-05

VAN HOLLEN DECIDES AGAINST SENATE RUN

U.S. Rep Chris Van Hollen (D-8th) announced June 11 that he will run for the United States Senate seat that Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) will vacate next year.

Van Hollen formed an exploratory committee and raised more than $700,000 for a possible campaign after Sarbanes announced his retirement.

But in a letter to supporters he cited the strain a statewide campaign would have placed on his young family as the overriding factor in his decision not to run.

“It was a difficult decision because I believe we could have waged an energetic and ultimately successful campaign,” he wrote, but “after many days on the road I decided I could not ask my wife Katherine and our three children to endure the many stresses and sacrifices that such a campaign would involve …I didn’t want to regret my decision years from now when my three children have grown up.”

Van Hollen said that his chief political ambition is to help elect a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in 2006. In January, Van Hollen was tapped by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Rahm Emanuel, to lead the Democratic candidate recruitment effort for the 2006 elections.

Van Hollen said that he has already helped recruit 22 Democratic candidates to run for open or incumbent-held seats compared to only three such candidates at this point in the 2004 cycle.

“I believe the Democrats have a real chance of winning the 15 seats necessary to take over the leadership of the House of Representatives,” he said.

Van Hollen’s decision not to run leaves Baltimore-area Congressman Ben Cardin and former Congressman and NAACP head Kweisi Mfume as the major candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.

Speculation about a Republican nominee centers heavily on Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who has formed an exploratory committee, but not announced a bid for the Senate seat.

SOUTHERN ALIGNMENT CHOSEN FOR ICC

Maryland plans to build the long-debated Inter County Connector (ICC) along the southern or “Master Plan” alignment, one of two proposed routes, officials announced July 11.

The ICC is a proposed 18-mile toll road linking I-270 in Montgomery County with I-95 and Route 1 in Prince George's County. Various incarnations of the ICC, sometimes as part of an “outer Beltway” encircling the Washington area, have appeared on master plans since the 1950s. But speakers at the announcement Monday said the estimated $2.1 billion project could break ground as early as next year.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Maryland Secretary of Transportation Robert Flanagan, and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan praised the proposal at a press conference in Rockville, saying that it will relieve congestion in the Washington area and stimulate job growth.

Opponents of the ICC — including most of the region’s environmental groups — have said that it will destroy ecological habitats, cost taxpayers billions, and do nothing to relieve congestion.

“The ICC has been sold to our citizens as the road that end gridlock. Yet the State’s own recently issued study shows that in fact it will do little to ease Beltway traffic congestion and will actually increase congestion at a number of key interchanges,” Montgomery County Councilmember Marilyn Praisner (D-4) said in a statement..

The majority of the Council supports the ICC.

“To argue that it will not affect the traffic on the Beltway is preposterous,” said Bill Askinazi, a Potomac resident and the Maryland assistant secretary for business, who spoke at the announcement yesterday. “Its very, very well spent money, which will attract more jobs and more employers. … The biggest complaint that we get from potential employers, are ‘Hey, you guys have the worst traffic in the country.’”

Praisner called the planned highway an “environmental disaster.”

DETERMINED2HEAL FUNDRAISER

Determined2Heal — an organization dedicated to spinal cord injury education, research, and rehabilitation — will host a screening of the award-winning documentary "Murderball" July 23 at Landmark Theaters in Bethesda. The $20 price includes admission to the film, refreshments, and a donation to Determined2Heal.

The organization was started by Josh Basile and his family. Basile grew up in River Falls and graduated from the Bullis School in 2003. On Aug. 1, 2004, he was paralyzed in a bodysurfing accident at Bethany Beach, Del. He is continuing intensive rehabilitation and continues to regain movement.

"Murderball" is a movie about quad rugby, a highly competitive, physically violent sport whose competitors are quadriplegics. It was the winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is rated R for language.

Organizers are not yet sure of the film screening time, but said it will be between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

To attend, RSVP with a check for $20 per ticket to Determined2Heal, 8112 River Falls Drive Potomac, MD 20854 or register online at www.Determined2Heal.org.