COLLEGE PARK – The 6th District has changed since the 2000 election,but the candidates have not.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, and Democratic challenger Donald M. DeArmon appear headed for a rematch of their 2000 congressional contestin which Bartlett won a convincing election to a fifth term.
DeArmon said this year’s redistricting represents an opportunity forhis campaign, as Bartlett has no incumbent advantage in the new sectionsof the Western Maryland district. Howard County has been moved out of the6th and into the 7th District, while the 6th has acquired the northernparts of Baltimore and Harford counties.
Bartlett said he thinks the advantage is still his.
“They said they’d put every conservative in the state into my districtif they could,” Bartlett said. “Don DeArmon needs to check with theDemocrats who did the redistricting.”
Larry Harris, of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc., agreed with Bartlett and said the 6th District was meant to be safe for the incumbent.
“It’s a safe seat,” he said, “They designed it such, so they could go after (8th District Republican Rep.) Connie Morella. There was a long-term strategy involved.”
But DeArmon is confident his third bid for Congress will be the charm,and said he is aggressively raising money toward that end.
According to the latest Federal Election Commission filings DeArmonhad raised $28,357.50 as of June 30 and had $20,058.17 available at thattime.
Bartlett reported raising $115,412.39, and had $213,127.73 on hand asof June 30. Bartlett’s lead is largely due to his having about $170,000left in his account from previous campaigns, according to the FEC.
This is DeArmon’s third bid for Congress. He lost the 1994 Democratic primary and won the party’s nomination two years ago, only to lose toBartlett in the general election by a 61-39 percent margin. In that race,DeArmon raised nearly $300,000 to Bartlett’s $231,000, according to FECreports.
DeArmon said he’s behind right now because of the late primary andbecause the July numbers do not show his campaign ramping up.
“I fully expect to raise that much and more this time,” he said.
Bartlett said he’s taking DeArmon’s challenge seriously, but hiscampaign isn’t aggressively raising funds at this point.
Bartlett said he isn’t sure how much of an effect money will have onthe race. He noted that, despite DeArmon’s financial strength in 2000, hestill only received 2 percentage points more of the vote than Timothy D.McCown did in 1998, and McCown spent less than $5,000.
“I’m always distressed that the only thing people are concerned aboutis money,” he said. “There has to be another yardstick.”
One other Democrat, Kevin M. Shaffer of LaVale, said he had not yetraised the minimum $5,000 in donations that would require him to file acampaign finance report with the FEC.