This is one in a series of interviews with candidates vying in Tuesday’s primary for their party’s nomination to represent Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, now held by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick.
MOUNT AIRY – David Brinkley inherited his passion for politics.
His father, a World War II veteran, instilled in him the importance of voting, he said. With people worldwide fighting for their right to vote, some Americans take it for granted, he said.
“You can sit in the grandstands and complain about things — do the Monday morning quarterbacking — or you can get on the playing field. And sometimes you get beat up a little bit, but other times there are some fruits to your labor and you can actually make a difference,” Brinkley said.
A Maryland state senator since 2003, who started his career in the House of Delegates in 1995, Brinkley now has his sights set on Congress. Through his time in Annapolis, he has tried to keep a public service perspective.
“When you get down there, a lot of people mistakenly call it “my seat” … when in fact, we as the people, the individual elected person, all we are is a tenant. It’s the people’s seat,” he said.
As a Republican in the Democratic-controlled Maryland Senate, he has served on the Budget and Taxation Committee since he was a freshman.
“The biggest issue has been to try to keep the state spending down. Now have I succeeded entirely? No, not really. But I have certainly slowed up the rate of acceleration,” he said.
Similarly, the biggest issue Brinkley sees in Washington is the federal government’s spending. He supports a balanced federal budget, is against increasing the debt limit and wants manufacturer’s taxes to drop to zero.
Jobs in this country, Maryland and particularly Western Maryland are a big concern to Brinkley, who has seen manufacturing jobs leave the area.
“The west end could be very self-sufficient … assuming they can get into some of the natural resource harvesting,” he said. “Not just Western Maryland, but throughout this country, we have incredible domestic energy reserves. We have to be able to tap them. We have to be able to produce them.”
While he’s aware of the environmental hazards that come along with coal and natural gas extraction, Brinkley said there are safe ways to bring that production to Western Maryland and create jobs.
“It’s there, we have to have the courage to extract it, to be able to market it, and to be able to do it while the market is attractive for it,” he said.
Western Maryland is has a large opportunity for tourism with battlefields, canals, Deep Creek Lake, downtown Cumberland and trains, Brinkley said. The challenge is to make tourists aware of the area. Tax incentives could be the answer, he said.
Brinkley also wants increased broadband Internet access in Western Maryland. He thinks other parts of Maryland take their
Internet access for granted. He views broadband access to rural areas as a great opportunity for creativity and jobs.
“We’re at the center of the creativity” for nano- and biotechnologies as well as cyber-security, said Brinkley.
“We have to stay ahead of technology and stay ahead of the bad guys, for lack of a better word,” he said.
Brinkley developed Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 29 and because of that experience, he said, he has become a strong advocate for medical marijuana.
“No I didn’t have to use marijuana when I went through my cancer treatments, but I’ve seen some of the pain, some of the frustrations — not just patients, but their family and what they deal with. And right now they have no alternative… The only source is the black market,” he said.
Last year, he sponsored a law providing a legal defense for people being prosecuted for marijuana possession if they had a debilitating and severe medical condition that could be relieved through marijuana.
The bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
A Maryland native, Brinkley graduated from Linganore High School in Frederick and attended the University of Maryland before getting into the insurance business. He currently does estate and retirement planning for Advisors Financial Group in Gaithersburg.
He has come under criticism from other candidates because he doesn’t actually live in the 6th District.
“The thing that’s fascinating is until this last redistricting, I was born in and raised in the 6th District. They crafted the 6th
District to keep this farm — where I live — out of it. The border is only 5 miles away. So it was kind of politics at its worst,” he said.
He has also come under criticism for his affair with a staffer and subsequent divorce in 2008. Brinkley said that while the divorce was unfortunate, he and his wife have both moved on and he doesn’t see it as an issue.