WASHINGTON – Two unsuccessful campaigns in the past four years to represent Maryland’s 6th Congressional District have not stopped Democrat Andrew Duck from trying again this year to unseat Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick.
Duck, 47, said this is his year, largely because of anti-incumbent sentiment he’s encountered across the district, which spans western Maryland and covers eight counties, including the major city of Frederick.
“Many incumbents who believe in their safety will find themselves out the door,” said Duck, who lives in Brunswick. Voters have told him “they want to ‘throw the bums out,’ is how they generally put it.”
Duck said he is looking past Tuesday’s primary to his ultimate goal of replacing Bartlett.
The campaign phone for Duck’s only Democratic opponent, Casey Clark, is no longer in service and several e-mails to Clark’s campaign have gone unanswered.
Duck has not seen Clark since April, he said.
“But his name is on the ballot and we take these things seriously,” Duck said.
Duck won the 2006 Democratic primary for Congress, but lost in the general election. He lost in the primary for the office two years later so he knows not to ignore any opposition.
Duck sees his resume as a retired Army officer and current Army intelligence advisor for The Analytic Sciences Corp. as an asset to election.
“I’m more than happy to stack my 20 years in the military with (Bartlett’s) 18 years in Congress any day,” Duck said.
If elected, Duck said his first priority is job creation, plus infrastructure and alternative energy. He has raised about $23,900 for the primary, nowhere near the $416,463 war chest Bartlett reported to the Federal Election Commission.
Bartlett, 84, has been reminding voters of his years of service and how honored he is to be their representative. Voters are anti-establishment, not anti-incumbent, he said, and he doesn’t consider himself a politician or a part of the establishment.
“I’ve been an independent conservative voice,” Bartlett said. “I’ve broken with my leadership and my president.”
But Bartlett’s nine terms in office have made him part of the establishment, said Republican Seth Wilson of Hagerstown, 40. Bartlett has been in office long enough, said Wilson, an IT project manager.
The failure of other candidates to focus on reducing government spending is another reason Wilson is running, he said. He also wants to secure the country’s borders and decrease government control domestically. He has not yet raised enough campaign funds to report them to the FEC.
Less government is also one of Bartlett’s stances, which, along with energy innovation and immigration reform would continue if he’s given another term, Bartlett said.
Republican Dennis Janda of Frederick, 61, who worked for Metro for 26 years, has no prior political experience — something he considers an advantage — and wants to return representation to constituents.
“I feel alienated as a citizen and a taxpayer,” he said. Janda has not reported any fundraising to the FEC because he’s not yet raised enough.
“That’s only money,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I have a message and that’s more important. How do you represent someone who didn’t give you the dollar as well as someone who did?”
Republican Joseph Krysztoforski of Phoenix, 56, who challenged Bartlett in the 2006 primary, collected $46,245 for his campaign treasury, largely from his own pocket.
“I don’t think congressmen should accept money from political action committees and special interest groups, because there always is a quid pro quo,” he said.
Krysztoforski, a retired businessman, is running to strengthen the district’s leadership, increase fiscal responsibility, promote immigration reform, and institute smaller government and energy self-sufficiency, he said.
People who were staunch Bartlett supporters have been supporting him in his campaign and more than 50 early voters at a Carroll County Republican Club picnic said they backed him, he said.
“I’m extremely confident that we will unseat Congressman Bartlett this time,” Krysztoforski said.
Krysztoforski does not view the other three Republican candidates as “credible challengers,” because of their lack of endorsements and said he had not seen them “seriously campaigning.”
The other candidates don’t see it that way, particularly given the anti-incumbent mood of the country.
“Any candidate has a chance in that environment,” Wilson said.
Steven Michael Taylor is also a Republican challenger in Tuesday’s primary. He has not returned repeated calls and e-mails.