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A Sixth District Congressional Debate
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October 12, 2012
Nathan Sterner: The Vice Presidential Debate wasn't the only debate held yesterday; in Hagerstown, the three candidates running for the Sixth District Congressional seat got together to talk about the issues. Those candidates: Libertarian Nickolaus Mueller, Democrat John Delaney, and 10-term incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett:
Roscoe Bartlett: "First of all, I'd like to start this debate by welcoming my two opponents to the Sixth District. Nice of you to stop by the district you'd like to represent in Congress."
Sterner: That's a none-too-subtle dig at Bartlett's opponents, neither of whom live in the Sixth... Mueller lives in Baltimore, and Delaney's Potomac home is just outside the district's borders.
One of the issues lat night was taxes: both Delaney and Bartlett said they're in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate.
The structure of the nation's Medicare program was also discussed; both Representative Bartlett and the Libertarian Mueller said they're in favor of a voucher system; Delaney disagreed, with the Democrat calling vouchers a "risk transfer" -- and arguing that the government should be allowed to negotiate better prices.
A third issue was the redistricting plan approved last year by the General Assembly -- an plan with a significant impact on the sixth district. Its borders were redrawn so as to turn the historically GOP-majority district into one containing more Democrats than Republicans. Voters will have a chance to decide whether the new map will stand in November; it's on the ballot as Question 5. Congressman Bartlett said the redistricting plan should be overturned.
Bartlett: "I think it fractured communities of interest. There's very little of common interest between the poor people in Allegheny County and the really really wealthy people down in Potomac. We need to vote no on that, and then they'll have to do it over again... maybe they'll do a better job next time."
John Delaney disagreed -- the Democrat said overturning the current redistricting plan doesn't do anything to reform the process.
John Delaney: "I do not support overturning the current map as stands. What I am in favor of is comprehensive redistricting reform. This referendum has nothing to do with redistricting reform. All its doing is an effort to overturn a map that was approved by the courts, and will inevitably be the exact same map should it be overturned."
Sterner: If voters do overturn the redistricting plan, the current one would stand through 2014... and while lawmakers would have to create a new one, there's no requirement that its districts would be substantively different from the one now in place.
Sound for this story provided by WYPR's Karen Hosler; the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, which sponsored last night's debate, has more here. Additional debates between the candidates will be coming in the future; the Washington Post reports that Congressman Bartlett has agreed to five more.
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