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Tom McMillen (D., Md.)
Jack McCallum
February 23, 1987
Late on the night of Nov. 1, 1986, Tom McMillen looked for all the world like a loser. In just three days the voters of Maryland's Fourth District would send either McMillen, the Democrat, or Robert R. Neall, the Republican, to Congress, and the smart money was on Neall. Neall had the endorsements of both the Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, and now McMillen was reading a Sun poll that showed the Republican ahead by nine points. McMillen"s recognition factor was far higher than Neall's, but the impression that McMillen was, as his opponent suggested, a dilettantish carpetbagger had evidently stuck.
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February 23, 1987

Tom Mcmillen (d., Md.)

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McMillen's desk is neat and categorized, like his mind. He's a good boss, say his staff members, but a bit of a grind. On virtually everything they write for him he scribbles comments like "simplify the language" or "watch the grammar." He once mentioned to Yates, in an offhand tone that wasn't so offhand, that his desk was kind of messy. "He was telling me he wanted me to clean it up," Yates says.

Settled behind his own desk for the first time in two days. McMillen runs an electric shaver over his face while he talks about President Ronald Reagan. "I admire the guy in a lot of respects, but, ideologically, we have differences," he says. "I guess it comes down to the way we view the country—the environment, education, a lot of things. I guess I have more of a philosophy of inclusivity, a belief that all Americans belong under the umbrella. That doesn't mean the federal umbrella. It means that all Americans should have the opportunity to get an education, to be free from health situations that may bankrupt them and to reach their potential. I'm not so sure that the President agrees with that. I'm sure he agrees with it philosophically, but there's a certain status quo to his thinking."

Again McMillen speaks smoothly and reasonably, but also dispassionately. He always looks before he leaps, and considering his bolted-to-the-floor NBA career, some would say he never leaps at all. He sounds believable and looks terrific. One can almost sense the Democratic leadership nodding appreciatively in the background.

It's too early to predict exactly where McMillen is going. But his progress through the power corridors of Washington, where he sometimes must stoop to conquer, will be well-chronicled. After all, you can't miss him.

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