U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, by virtue of his tenure serving the public and his experience on a number of key committees in both the House and Senate, has earned the label of a respected statesman. His long-standing role as a member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, a leading voice on human rights, deserves special note.
Cardin (D-Md.) of Pikesville has voiced frustration at the divisiveness in the current Congress and has displayed a willingness to work across the aisle. For example, the Cardin-Lugar Amendment, crafted with Indiana Republican Richard Lugar, requires more than 1,000 oil, gas and mining companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose their payments to U.S. and foreign governments annually.
Cardin also supports the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson blueprint, aimed at reducing the national debt. The proposal recommends a combination of budget cuts and tax increases to reduce the debt by $4 trillion over the next decade.
Cardin’s influence, which benefits Maryland, is evidenced by his committee assignments, which include Finance, Foreign Relations, Budget, and Environment and Public Works (he chairs the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee).
In his latter role, he has been a leading advocate on water quality issues. He authored the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, designed to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay through new enforcement measures.
At a time when all political candidates talk of what they would do to help small businesses, Cardin, a member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, is positioned to actually do something. He speaks of the need for “predictability” for businesses to operate successfully and understands that Maryland is best positioned for growth in the biotech, high-tech and cyber-security fields.
In 2004, Worth Magazine listed him as among the “100 people who have influenced the way Americans think about money.” The honor reflected his work while representing the 3rd Congressional District from 1987-2006 in the House. Among his assignments were the influential Ways & Means and Budget committees.
During that time, he drafted legislation that increased the amount Americans can save for retirement He also proposed successful legislation that boosted job training. And, he was in the forefront of efforts to expand preventive measures under Medicare, including prostate and mammogram screenings.
Cardin’s competitors in the campaign are Republican Daniel Bongino, independent Rob Sobhani and Libertarian Dean Ahmad. All three deserve credit for their commitment to participating in the electoral process, but none has held elective office.
By his own admission, Bongino remains an outsider with much of his own party. His views most closely resemble those of the tea party; he even gained the endorsement of Sarah Palin.
Sobhani has garnered much attention for saturating television with ads for which he paid out of his own pocket. It is paying off at the polls; he is running neck and neck with Bongino (although both trail Cardin by a significant margin). Sobhani makes all sorts of promises about securing investments for Maryland without specifics on how he would do it. Ahmad remains the longest of the long shots.
When all is said and done, Cardin remains the best hope for Maryland’s electorate. Besides being the most experienced candidate, he brings a willingness to work with others, an understanding of the scope of problems facing the United States — including legislative gridlock and the economy — and compassion for his fellow citizens.