WASHINGTON – An Iraq War veteran, a former mayor, several past also-rans and a pair of teachers are among the crowd challenging Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, for the House seat he has held since 1993.
Eleven candidates in all — five Republicans, five Democrats and an independent — have filed to run for Maryland’s 6th District House of Representatives seat in the 2008 election.
The filing deadline was Monday and the primary is Feb. 12.
Bartlett, who was a professor, research scientist and farmer before his stint in Congress, is favored but will campaign actively.
“We always run like we’re 20 points behind,” he said. “We always run a hard campaign and don’t stop doing what we do all the time. We go to as many events in the district that we can.
He welcomes the large field: “It’s just great that we live in a free country where the government doesn’t control who runs. That’s great.”
Some of the challengers are familiar, in this or other congressional races, including Republican Joseph Krysztoforski of Hunt Valley, who got 21 percent of the vote — to Bartlett’s 79 — in the 2006 primary.
“I’m not happy with what’s going on in Washington,” Krysztoforski said. “I’m not happy with Congress. I’m not happy with the road our nation is heading down.”
John Kimble of Beltsville ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Mitchellville, four times since 1996, but now is turning his attention to Bartlett’s Western Maryland district.
“I don’t think it’s been my issues, it’s been where I’ve run,” Kimble said of his lack of success. He called the 6th District “a much better area for me to run in.”
Kimble also ran against Michael Steele in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2006, finishing a distant second.
Frank Nethken, too, is making another run at the office. He lost to Bartlett in 1992. The Cumberland resident and born-again Christian is simultaneously running for president in every state but Maryland.
Tom Croft of Middletown, a Web design instructor for Frederick County Public Schools, rounds out the GOP field.
Among Democrats, Andrew Duck, an Army veteran, and former Frederick mayor Jennifer Dougherty are the best known.
Duck lost to Bartlett, 59 to 38 percent, in the 2006 general election.
He is a 20-plus-year U.S. Army veteran who deployed three times to Bosnia from 1995-2000 and once to Iraq in 2003.
Duck is trying to boost his name recognition by promoting his veteran credentials.
“Of the people who knew Andrew Duck was an Iraq War veteran, 70 percent voted for me,” Duck said of his 2006 exit poll results. “Only about half the people got that word.”
Duck is one of the “Fighting Dems,” a nationwide group of Democratic congressional candidates emphasizing their veteran status.
Dougherty was elected Frederick’s first female mayor in 2001, but she lost in the primary during her re-election bid. Frederick is the largest city in the district.
She called Bartlett “out of touch” with voters on both local and national issues, but said he would be a tough opponent in a potential general-election matchup.
“We Democrats have to play a realistic game and show some backbone,” Dougherty said.
“I think I’ve learned from that and understand what the issues that affected my re-election were,” she added. “… While not everything was a day in the park, we certainly got more done in 4 years than some administrations have done in longer terms.”
Rounding out the Democratic candidates are Rick Lank of Middletown, executive vice president of Grey Goes Green, a consulting company that promotes alternative energy solutions; Robin Deibert of Fairplay, a business systems analyst whose campaign stresses withdrawing American troops from Iraq as soon as possible; and Larry Smith of Cumberland, an assistant principal at Hancock Middle Senior High School in Hancock.
Gary William Hoover Sr., of Clear Spring, is running as an independent, and must collect more than 4,000 signatures to appear on the ballot in the general election.
The 6th District covers Western Maryland, including all of Allegany, Carroll, Frederick Garrett and Washington counties, as well as parts of Baltimore, Harford and Montgomery counties.
In other Maryland congressional districts, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville, is the only incumbent without a primary race this season. He will face Richard Pryce Matthews, the Republican who is also without primary opposition.
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, in the state’s 1st Congressional District faces a five-pronged primary challenge. State Sen. Andy Harris, R-Baltimore County, state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Queen Anne’s, Robert Banks, Joe Arminio and John Leo Walter are all seeking the nomination on the Republican side.
Steve Harper, Frank Kratovil Jr., Christopher Robinson and Joseph Werner have filed as Democrats.
Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, is opposed by John Rea in Maryland’s 3rd District Democratic primary while Thomas Harris, Paul Spause, John Stafford and Christopher Panasuk will vie for the Republican nomination.
It will be a rematch of the 2006 primary for Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Mitchellville, in the 4th District. He managed to squeak by Donna Edwards last time by 3 percentage points, but this time the opposition will be more divided. Edwards joins Jason Jennings, George Mitchell, George McDermott and Michael Babula in challenging Wynn again this year.
Republicans vying for the 4th District seat, which covers parts of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, are Robert Broadus, Peter James, Vincent Martorano and Michael Moshe Starkman, who ran against Wynn in 2006 and received 19 percent of the vote.
In the 5th District, which encompasses Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties and parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, even Maryland’s most powerful congressman faces a challenge.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, will face James Cusick Sr., a pro-life activist who has been imprisoned for spray painting court houses with anti-child support slogans and not paying child support.
On the Republican side, Collins Bailey, a member of the Charles County Board of Education, Jesse James Dann and Mike Hethmon, an attorney and director of the Immigration Reform Law Institute will vie for the nomination.
In the 7th Congressional District, six-term incumbent Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, faces Charles Ulysses Smith of Baltimore. Smith, who has unsuccessfully run for various local offices, is a consultant for non-profit organizations in affordable housing.
Republican candidates are Ray Bly of Jessup and Michael T. Hargadon of Woodstock.
In the 8th Congressional District, three-term incumbent Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, will again face Deborah A. Vollmer of Chevy Chase, as well as Lih Young of Rockville. Vollmer, a lawyer, has run for the seat since 1998. Young, an economist, has unsuccessfully run for various offices since 1994.
The Republican field is much larger: Steven J. Hudson of Silver Spring, Meyer F. Marks of Rockville, Brian Mezger of Bethesda, Jay Roberts of Silver Spring and Bruce Stern of Gaithersberg.
Green Party member Brian Crider of Germantown will challenge the Democratic and Republican nominees in the general election on Nov. 4.
Capital News Service reporters Anju Kaur, Dan Lamothe, Danielle Ulman and Michael Walsh contributed to this report.