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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Maryland Sixth District Race Heats Up

George Wenschhof

The mudslinging directed at some of the Democratic candidates is earnest as the Maryland April 3 primary nears.

Reports surfaced recently showing Democratic candidate John Delaney contributed to Republican Congressman Andrew Harris who defeated incumbent Democrat Frank Kratovil in the 2010 first district congressional race.

Revelations Democratic state senator Rob Garagiola may have violated state ethics law regarding failure to report financial income followed last week.

A rampant rumor mill adds the newly drawn sixth district was designed for Garagiola and that Delaney, a wealthy businessman, who has contributed significant personal finances to his campaign, is trying to buy the seat.

These disclosures are but a part, of the silliness currently taking place in the Democratic primary. The efforts designed to conjure up flights of imagination and distract from the candidate’s positions on the important issues facing voters in the newly configured sixth district.

The redrawn district was designed, with the help of state Democratic leaders, with one thing in mind - to replace 20 year ineffective incumbent Republican Representative Roscoe Bartlett.

The 42,000 voter registration edge for Democrats is the result of the redistricting mandated every ten years by the U.S. constitution. The Democratic voter advantage was achieved by combining portions of Montgomery County with Western Maryland and removing portions from the former sixth district which have heavy Republican voter registration.

All of which bolsters an argument state legislatures should appoint bi-partisan committees to draw redistricting maps every ten years.

Perhaps, if all states would adopt this method; a suggestion offered by Rob Garagiola during a recent interview, this would aid in reducing the acrimony and gridlock which currently exists in the House contributing to the historic low (10%) approval rating Congress receives today.

A look at recent voter registration numbers in the new district reveals the following: Democrats -183,051, Republicans – 140,969, and Unaffiliated/Other – 89,602.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize this is now a race Republicans can only win by maintaining their Republican base, drawing a majority from the “Unaffiliated/Other” voters and receiving significant defections from Democratic voters.

The Maryland April 3 primary is rapidly approaching and Western Maryland Democrats, long forgotten and accustomed to being voters from the wilderness, have five Democratic challengers from which to choose.

The Democratic candidates are state senator Rob Garagiola, John Delaney, Milad Pooran, Charles Bailey and Ron Little.

Republicans, perhaps wary their ten term 86 year old Congressman, had overstayed his welcome, have eight candidates in the race.

The Republicans are incumbent Roscoe Bartlett, state senator David Brinkley, state delegate Kathy Afzali, Robin Ficker, Brandon Rippeon, Joseph Krysztoforski, Peter James and Robert Coblentz.

Democrats across the sixth district are rejoicing over the Republican challenge Bartlett is receiving, confident it signals the end of his time in office.

Republicans are gleeful and perhaps even behind, the allegations circulating in the Democratic primary hopeful disgruntled Democratic supporters of the losing candidates will vote Republican in the General Election.

It remains to be seen if Democrats learned their lesson from 20 years ago, when a divided party, upset over the negative attacks used by Thomas Hattery to defeat long term incumbent Representative Beverly Byron in the primary, contributed to the upset victory achieved by Republican Roscoe Bartlett.

Lost to the voter, is the serious debate on the important issues. For instance, how a candidate will bring jobs to Western Maryland; an area of the state long neglected, is more important than personal gossip.

It is past time to replace Roscoe Bartlett and Democratic candidates would be wise to keep their eyes on the prize and focus on what they will do for voters in the district.

Sixth district voters deserve better representation and only need to be reminded of the underwhelming 20 year career of Bartlett, totally void of any significant accomplishment.

Democratic voters across the district should focus on candidate positions on the issues and not be distracted by the personal attacks; keeping in mind there is more that unites Democrats than divides them.

And, for sixth district Republicans, as a result of the redistricting, the sad reality is; the Democratic Party “Drive for 25” to regain a majority in the House is now likely a “Drive for 24”.

Watching the sixth district race unfold, I’m reminded of the phrase uttered by Will Rogers – “I’m not a member of any organized party, I’m a Democrat.”

Stay Tuned.


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