Rep. Benjamin Cardin's reputation as a lifelong "behind-the
scenes" politician served him well in a tough Democratic
primary where he defeated former colleague Kweisi Mfume and 16
other candidates. He won 45 percent of the vote and can now set
his sight on the general election against current Republican Lt.
Gov. Michael Steele to replace retiring Democrat Sen. Paul Sarbanes.
grew up in a Jewish political family in Baltimore; his father
represented the 2nd District in the Maryland House of Delegates
and also served as a judge in the city court system. His uncle
Maurice Cardin also was a member of the House of Delegates.
Benjamin Cardin started his career in politics in 1966 when he
won his uncle's seat in the House of Delegates, the same year
he got a law degree from the University of Maryland. He went on
to serve nearly 20 years in the legislature as chairman of the
Ways and Means Committee from 1974 to 1979 and speaker from 1979
In 1986, Cardin replaced Rep. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., in Maryland's
3rd District after Mikulski successfully ran for U.S. Senate.
In his 20 years as a U.S. congressman, Cardin has served on the
Ways and Means Committee, the Bipartisan Ethics Task Force and
as senior Democratic whip.
Cardin has focused on the war in Iraq and health care reform
in his campaign. He voted against the initial congressional resolution
to authorize President Bush to invade Iraq and has remained a
strong critic of the war. He also has campaigned on Medicare reform
and on universal health care.
Throughout the primary campaign, Cardin emphasized his two decades
of experience, while his opponent Lt. Gov. Michael Steele has
referred to them as a drawback, running campaign advertisements
saying, "Washington has no clue what's going on in your life."
Steele refers to himself as a "different kind of senator."
Steele also has called for wide-ranging lobbying reforms in his
campaign, echoing the "special interest" charges Mfume
made against Cardin during the race for the Democratic nomination.
"I don't accept corporate special interest money and the
fact that [Cardin] does is his own business," said Mfume
in a televised debate with Cardin. In the primary, Cardin had
a fundraising edge over Mfume, with more than four times as much
money on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission reports
filed by each candidate.
In the debate and in response to similar subsequent arguments,
Cardin told voters to "Judge me on my record," referring
to his history of voting against drug companies and other corporate
Cardin was born Oct. 5, 1943 in Baltimore. He is married to Myrna
Edelman Cardin and has one daughter and two grandchildren.