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Update On The Sixth District Congressional Race
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October 22, 2012
Republican Roscoe Bartlett was ready to retire after 20 years in Congress. But that was before Maryland’s Democratic political barons reshaped his Western Maryland district to force him out. Now, Bartlett is battling on new turf with a formidable Democrat in the state’s only close congressional contest. WYPR’s Karen Hosler filed this report.
Karen Hosler: Witness, here, an example of campaign politics 101. At a Mexican restaurant in downtown Gaithersburg, Democrat John Delaney is accepting the endorsement of the influential local Latino community. Gustavo Torres, of Casa in Action, makes the case for the challenger.
Gustavo Torres: “It’s very simple, he’s a leader, he’s going to fight for our community for jobs, to make sure we are going to have jobs in our community. He has extraordinary experience. But also and most importantly because he is strongly supporting comprehensive immigrant reform. He is strongly supporting the Dream Act right here in Maryland and at the national level. That is the reason why Casa in Action with our 27,000 members strongly endorse John.”
Hosler: In his bid to oust 20-year Republican veteran Roscoe Bartlett, Delaney has made similar connections with other crucial elements of the Democratic base: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, women—almost all of them recently added to the new Western Maryland district.
John Delaney: My whole approach to this campaign from the beginning has been one of partnerships: to reach out to different communities who have unique perspectives on issues that are important to members of their community.”
Hosler: A few miles—but seemingly ages—away Bartlett made his bid for support to the farmers and small business folks of Poolesville, an historic old town in Montgomery County very much like his Frederick County home base. Their concerns ranged from crop insurance to natural gas fracking to stink bugs. Realtor Frank Jamison said the area fit well with Bartlett’s old turf.
Frank Jamison: “I think Mr. Bartlett has done pretty well for everybody in Frederick County. We’re new to his district, and he’s more in tune with our rural life here. So, I think he would be a good representative for us.”
Hosler: That may not be enough to offset Delaney’s advantages, the congressman said.
Roscoe Bartlett: “This is a very tough race, it is a clear Democrat district, a hundred eighty-five thousand registered Democrats; I think 139,000 registered Republicans and 79,000 independents. Our big challenge was getting acquainted with 357,000 new people in Montgomery County.”
Hosler: At a Hagerstown debate the other night Delaney, an investment banker, trumpeted his successful business career as a cure to the sagging economy.
Delaney: “I’m in a unique position to make our country more competitive so that we can attract better jobs, so we can reverse these employment trends and we can reverse the negative trends around the standard of living of the average American.
Hosler: But Bartlett, a fiscal conservative who despairs of Congress making real progress on the national debt, urged voters to reject the governor’s attempt to silence him.
Bartlett: “Now Martin O’Malley decided to rig my district for a Democrat, but I know the people of this district are smarter than that. Our country is in trouble, these are serious times. We have an unsustainable debt that is putting us on the path to becoming Greece. My opponent’s solution is more taxes and more spending. History has shown that isn’t going to work.
Hosler: In these final days before the election, perhaps the 86-year-old incumbent will make a race of it after all. I’m Karen Hosler, reporting from Hagerstown, for 88.1 WYPR.
You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at email@example.com.
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