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Former Congresswoman to Run Again

May 8, 2002

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BALTIMORE (AP) _ A former congresswoman who also was once the highest-ranking female in the Nixon administration hopes to regain the House seat she held for 10 years, a campaign official said.

Helen Bentley, 78, will make the formal announcement by the end of the month, her exploratory committee chairman, Michael Kosmas, said Tuesday.

Bentley, whose political career began when President Richard Nixon appointed her Federal Maritime Commission chairwoman in 1969, will join the race to replace Republican Rep. Robert Ehrlich, who is running for governor.

The contest is one of a handful nationwide that could determine which party controls the House of Representatives.

``We are delighted to have her,″ said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Kosmas said Bentley, who served in Congress from 1985 to 1995, decided to run after House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert assured her she would return to the Appropriations Committee and retain her seniority.

The vow would give her an advantage in the newly redrawn 2nd District, which is expected to lean Democratic. Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat, has already announced his candidacy.

While in Congress, Bentley, president of her own consulting firm, earned a reputation as a feisty campaigner with ties to labor, and appeal for Democrats. She left for an unsuccessful run for governor.

``She has a very good shot to win this race,″ Ehrlich said. ``It is a Helen Bentley district.″

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