hoose two members of Congress from the same state. Compare and contrast their home styles and Washington styles. How are their “presentation of self” and choices in Washington shaped by electoral results, the nature of their district or state (homogeneity, heterogeneity, partisanship, etc) and prior political experience? In the book Home Style, House Members in Their Districts, the author Richard Fenno presents a detailed investigation on the effects that elected officials’ perceptions of their constituencies have on their political behavior in their home district, as well as in Washington.
Fenno utilizes nearly eight years of research to help construct an insightful discussion pertaining to the relationship among a representative’s home style and their Washington activity. Through the course of his evaluation, Fenno found that each representative employed their own unique approach for addressing constituent demands, while balancing personal goals with party expectations and objectives in Washington.
An in-depth comparison of the unique representational styles of Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin depicts how different home styles are employed to achieve support and success in Washington, as well as at home. At the same time, such an analysis illustrates how prior political experience, electoral results, and the political nature of Maryland has helped shape the choices and legislative attitudes of Senator Mikulski and Senator Cardin in Washington, as well as in their representative state of Maryland.
Barbara Mikulski began her Congressional career in 1977, replacing incumbent Paul Sarbanes’ seat in the House of Representatives for Maryland’s 3rd district. 1 Before going into politics, Senator Mikulski devoted much of her time and energy towards helping others. She earned her masters degree in social work from the University of Maryland in 1965. 2 Her passion for serving the community grew into a career after she took a position as a social worker with Baltimore’s Department of Social Services.
For over ten years, Mikulski worked on programs that focused on protecting at-risk youth living in East Baltimore neighborhoods, as well as educating elderly residents about the benefits of the Medicare program3. Mikulski’s compassionate personality, coupled with her unwavering dedication to social service, helps explain the foundation and driving forces behind her home style. Born, raised, and a life long resident of Maryland, Senator Mikulski’s presentation of self employs her local roots and community ties as a technique to connect with constituents.
While Maryland politics has been historically controlled by the Democratic Party, many of the issues and programs impacting Maryland which Mikulski supports transcend party divides. Like the representational style of Congressmen E, who Fenno categorizes as service oriented, Mikulski doesn’t cater solely to the demands of certain groups like her Democratic constituents. 4 However, unlike Congressman E, Mikulski uses her homegrown appeal as a tool to identify with, as well as garner the trust of a heterogeneous reelection constituency in the same way as Congressmen B-‘the local boy’.
5 This approach may be explained in part by the diverse economic and social interests present in different regions of the state. Baltimore City residents typically place higher importance on government funding for public education and law enforcement programs than rural communities in western Maryland. Additionally, Marylanders living on the Eastern shore tied to the agricultural sector of the state’s economy need, and expect, different benefits and protections from Maryland government than residents living in affluent regions of the suburbs outside of Baltimore and Washington D.
C. Due to the heterogeneous nature of Maryland that results from its diverse geographic and socio-economic factors, coupled with a wide range of pressing issues, Senator Mikulski’s home style has been fashioned in such a way that helps her connect with a broad range of supporters while addressing the needs of different groups. As a Marylander for Marylanders, Senator Mikulski has devoted herself to protecting the health of one of Maryland’s most cherished resources-the Chesapeake Bay. Her efforts on protecting the Bay are a prime example of her dedication to local interests.
Mikulski has utilized her position as a Ranking Member of the Appropriations subcommittee that directly funds the Environmental Protection Agency to secure millions of dollars for programs to preserve and monitor the health of the Bay. Since 2000, Senator Mikulski has helped secure more than $20 million in grants every year for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to increase cleanup and monitoring efforts to help protect the health of the Bay, and maintain safe levels of oyster, crab, and certain fish that Maryland watermen depend on.
6 Mikulski’s dedication to caring for the Bay is not about pleasing Democrats or Republicans, but illustrates a specific example of her commitment to serving a broad constituency while addressing particular problems affecting local residents. Senator Mikulski’s service oriented home style is supplemented by her Washington activity and contributions to influential Senate committees. In the Senate, Mikulski is revered as a fierce supporter of Maryland interests with a powerful ability to dissuade opponents through tough and uncompromising debate.