WASHINGTON – Whoever wins in Maryland’s 5th District congressional race, voters can count on the district going to the dogs.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mitchellville, often campaigns with his springer spaniel, Charlotte, and aides said he sometimes takes the dog with him to his Capitol Hill office.
Not to be outdone, GOP challenger Bob Ostrom said Friday that if 5th District voters elect to put a Republican in the House they can count on putting his dog there, too.
“It would be fun to bring her down,” Ostrom said of Raven, his black labrador retriever. “I think the constituents would be happy to see her.”
Some cat lovers view the situation with feline suspicion.
Betty Kelly, a member of Capital Cat Fanciers Inc. in Gaithersburg, said she would not have a problem with dogs going to the Hill, so long as cats were allowed in. But, she said, cats are probably not as common because they do not travel as well as dogs.
Kelly said it is a good idea for congressional candidates to take their pets out on the campaign trail because, “it makes them seem like ordinary people.”
Whether that’s the reason or not, both Hoyer and Ostrom often campaign with their pooches.
Charlotte is a springer spaniel who makes friends as easily on the campaign trail as her owner, Hoyer, a career politician who knows how to work a crowd.
Raven is a little shy but very friendly, said Ostrom. The 4-year-old black lab was seen on at least one campaign stop wearing a handful of Ostrom campaign stickers, looking something like a Dalmatian in reverse.
The dog first appeared in early September on a radio commercial Ostrom staged to introduce his family. Since then, he said, everywhere he goes, people keep asking, “Where’s Raven?”
“She’s a great dog and we love her a lot,” he said. “She’s a very important part of our family.”
Ostrom said pets send a powerful message to voters: They show them that a candidate has interests beyond simply running for office.
“She’s become very famous and hopefully she’ll help me win the election on Tuesday,” Ostrom said.
Hoyer did not return repeated telephone calls Friday seeking comment on his canine- staffing plans for the next Congress.
Ostrom said that cat lovers need not fret over his candidacy for, “rest assured, the Ostrom family are equal-opportunity pet owners.”
Ostrom also has a gray-and-white domestic shorthair named Smokey, who has been a part of their family for 10 years.
The cat and dog get along very well, he said. In fact, they both sleep with Ostrom and his wife.
“We share a very large bed,” Ostrom said.