WASHINGTON – Both major-party candidates in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District are confident of a win, despite the incumbent’s superior fundraising.
The 6th District, represented by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, since 1993, includes Frederick, Carroll, Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties, as well as portions of Baltimore, Harford and Montgomery counties.
Bartlett’s fundraising outpaced his challenger, former Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty, D-Frederick, by nearly $50,000 in the third quarter, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission Oct. 15. To date, Bartlett has raised more than double, $275,230, what Dougherty has collected, $117,608.
But Dougherty, 47, the mayor of Frederick from 2002 to 2006, said she believes the district is ready for a change after 15 years of Bartlett.
Dougherty, who has cited the development of the long-stalled Carroll Creek Park project and the hiring of a new Frederick Police Department chief as two of her administration’s greatest accomplishments, lost her second mayoral bid to former Mayor Ronald Young during the 2005 Democratic primary. However, she beat four other Democrats in the congressional primary this year, including previous nominee Andrew Duck.
She said Bartlett has “lost touch” with issues important to his constituents.
“I don’t think the current Congress has been paying attention to the details that affect our district, specifically job growth, the cost of energy … and health care,” Dougherty said. “(Bartlett) is a person who has lost touch with the issues on Main Street.”
Last year, Bartlett voted to invest in homegrown bio-fuels. He has spoken out against drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge out of concern for wildlife and lives in a solar-powered house. He was the first member of the U.S. Congress to own a hybrid car.
Dougherty has said she supports working with existing businesses in the district to generate job growth, building a 6th District bio-fuel refinery to convert raw material such as algae to the “flex-fuel” called e-85 ethanol and allowing individuals to purchase health insurance from the federal employee plan.
Though Bartlett, 82, has long run on a platform of small government and low taxes, this election year his high-priority issues are nearly identical to those of his opponent.
Bartlett has cited the economy, energy costs and health care as the topics he would first address if given another term, said spokeswoman Lisa Wright.
“Congressman Bartlett understands that businesses and entrepreneurs create wealth, that government can hire people to do important jobs but governments don’t create wealth,” Wright said. “He will continue to advocate for and vote for lower taxes, less spending and fewer and more effective regulations that will help Americans to create and to obtain more and better jobs.”
But while Bartlett trumps Dougherty in experience and funds, the outcome of the 6th District race may yet be a surprise.
An Oct. 15 poll, paid for by the Maryland Democratic Party and conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, showed Dougherty was behind Bartlett by just 6 percent.
“Now, that poll was paid for by the Democratic Party so it has to be taken with a grain of salt, but there is certainly reason to believe there are changing patterns of voting registration in the 6th District,” said Adam Pagnucco, a writer for political blog Maryland Politics Watch.
In September, just over 47 percent of voters in the 6th District were registered Republicans, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections. Earlier this month, that number had decreased to 46.6 percent. Conversely, last month Democrats made up about 36.6 percent of the District’s voting bloc; this month, they composed about 36.7 percent of 6th District voters.
“I wouldn’t get too carried away with it,” Pagnucco said. “But this is an indication that Democrats are gaining ground in the 6th District.”