October 29, 2012
U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett entered the national political scene two decades ago championing an outsider agenda that included term limits. The caveat was that he would remain in office only if the federal government balanced its budget — which the government did under Bill Clinton, but without the help of Bartlett, who voted against a balanced budget.
This circumstance is emblematic of Bartlett’s somewhat quixotic career in office. He is well-known for showing up at the ribbon cuttings of projects he has voted against; he rails against government spending, but laps up earmarks by the score; and he has uttered unfortunate statements that most every conceivable minority has found offensive.
Yet, just when it becomes tempting to write Bartlett off as an unthinking mouthpiece of the extreme right, the congressman will come out, for example, against Big Oil and in favor of solar energy. Bartlett is one of 30 Republicans endorsed by ConservAmerica, a Republican group that champions conservation and the environment.
Bartlett also has represented the 6th District as it often seems that the people of Western Maryland want to be represented — that is to say not very much at all. If Bartlett lacked an aggressive agenda for helping local communities, local communities weren’t all that keen on getting that help in the first place.
The redistricting of the 6th, however, has changed everything. The conservative, rural district has been lashed to a multitude of liberal precincts in the Washington suburbs and is now a target of Democrats trying to make inroads in the House of Representatives.
Like Bartlett 20 years ago, his Democratic opponent, John Delaney, is new to politics. But there, the similarities end. Unlike Bartlett, Delaney is no ideologue and not bent on destroying the establishment. Steeped in the capital markets and corporate America, Delaney is a product of soil that more often sprouts Republicans. Indeed, Delaney is something of a defacto Independent, having won the nomination from the liberals' candidate of choice, Rob Garagiola, by positioning himself in the center.
This allows the far-right Bartlett precious little room to maneuver, since the moderate-conservative ground is already occupied. And Delaney has the credentials to occupy it well.
Delaney’s understanding of job creation and finance is based on real-world experience, and is not the product of theoretical business schools and partisan boilerplate fixated on unrealistically low taxes and lax regulations. He supports reduction of the deficit not by strangling the economy, but through meaningful cuts in spending coupled with modification to the tax code to produce more income.
Delaney also brings to the table a more modern view of society. Where Bartlett produces routine winces whenever he talks in social terms (once lamenting the lack of “normal names” among scholarship winners and most recently implying that college students with debt might lead to another Holocaust), Delaney supports the Dream Act, marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights.
For 20 years, Bartlett has given the people of Western Maryland, for the most part, what they have wanted. His service to the people has been valuable and is deeply appreciated. But time doesn’t stand still, and much of Bartlett’s philosophy is simply outdated. Further, Bartlett’s unyielding ideology is all too symbolic of everything that is wrong in Washington today.
Because of this, we believe Delaney’s combination of conservative financial bona fides and modern world view are best for the newly drawn district.
Indeed, this new district is really more of a reflection of the old district map in place before Bartlett held the office. At that time, Western Maryland was quite ably represented by conservative Democrat Beverly Byron. Today, we believe conservative Democrat John Delaney is better equipped to serve the district moving forward, and as such, we endorse his candidacy for the House.
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