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August 19, 2009

Mikulski mending slowly, out of sight

One month after shattering her ankle, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski remains a patient at a Baltimore rehab center, where she is undergoing four or five hours of physical therapy a day.

A spokeswoman for the 73-year-old senator said Mikulski is expected to remain wheelchair bound until mid-September. She plans to return to Washington on Sept. 8, when the Senate reconvenes.

Mikulski fell as she was leaving her Baltimore church on July 19, fracturing her ankle in three places. She later underwent surgery at Mercy Medical Center and was moved to the rehab center on July 31.

The accident sidelined the nation's senior female senator during the final weeks leading up to the August recess. She made only one appearance at the Capitol, casting a vote in favor of the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Since then, Mikulski has remained out of public view. Unlike some of her colleagues in Maryland and elsewhere, the Democrat has not held town hall meetings on overhauling the nation's health care system during Congress' month-long summer break.

Mikulski, who has been active on the issue as a member of the Senate Health committee, is considering several avenues of communication with state constituents over the next few weeks. Among the possibilities: a telephone town-hall meeting or a "virtual" town hall, in which she would field questions online, said spokeswoman Rachel MacKnight.

The senator may also call in to radio programs, said MacKnight, adding that nothing has been scheduled yet. Mikulski sees a staff member most days and has kept in touch with Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and Gov. Martin O'Malley, according to the aide.

Mikulski's prolonged healing process could have posed a political problem, by generating renewed interest in the veteran senator's health. In 2005, she was briefly hospitalized at Mercy for what was described as an irregular heartbeat and was put on medication to control it.

But for Mikulski to have a political problem, she'd have to face a credible challenger to her re-election next year.

Already running for another six-year term in the seat she's held since 1986, the senator has yet to attract serious opposition. A recent, national assessment of 2010 by the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report observed that the Senate election in Maryland isn't even on the Republican Party's radar screen.

Posted by Paul West at 12:46 PM | | Comments (6)


The MD Senate race may not be on the GOP's radar - yet - but it will be. For the first time in forever, Mikulski does have serious opposition in Doctor Eric Wargotz...unless, you don't consider a County Council President and Professor of Clinical Pathology to be "serious" enough..

You've got Mikulski skulking on the sidelines, the most tempestuous electorate I've ever seen, and a credible, likeable, and knowledgeable challenger.

Let Mikulski continue to sit it out. 2010 will be here and gone before she knows it - and she'll be wondering what hit her while Eric Wargotz is being sworn in as MD's next US Senator.

When Dr. Wargotz is being sworn in I will be enjoying a Mimosa on the moon. But at least either he or his spouse reads the blog.

Of course we're sorry for the Senator's fall and health issues.
Who among us has coverage, however, for 100% of the treatment she's had plus "inhouse" rehab still going on after a month?
This is a chance for us, and her, to look at the health care situation and weigh in "specifically" on the issues.
Why can't she have a radio town hall meeting? Better than nothing.
As to the comment above regarding a Republican taking her seat...I doubt it. However, we're going to be asking a lot more from politicians from now on and they all should understand it will not be business as usual. Just because you're a Democrat doesn't mean you're not going to have to answer more openly and more frequently to your constituents.

she should have used her head


We do have term limits. They are called elections.


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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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