The sign on the door at the Frederick office still says "Rep. Roscoe Bartlett."
But inside, it is an office in transition.
Late last month, boxes were waiting to be packed. Some computers and televisions had been dismantled and were on a center table. Staffers scurried around talking on their cellphones.
On this morning of Nov. 26, some of the women on Bartlett’s staff said they were not wearing any makeup. “Moving day,” they said by way of explanation.
In just a matter of a few weeks, Bartlett, 86, will become a former congressman, having lost the Nov. 6 election for Maryland’s 6th District to John Delaney, his Democratic challenger.
The defeat brought to an end a legislative career spanning two decades.
In that time, Bartlett held steadfast to his conservative principles, said Alex X. Mooney, Maryland’s Republican Party chairman. But Bartlett also was able to build alliances with Democratic legislators, according to Gene Taylor, a former Democratic U.S. representative from Mississippi.
In election after election, Maryland’s “Red” 6th District returned Bartlett to office.
But in 2011, the boundaries of his district were redrawn, adding thousands of Democratic voters from Montgomery County.
“I was redistricted out,” Bartlett said. “The 6th District is no longer a community of interest of small towns, farms and volunteer fire companies.”
When asked why he lost Washington County, which usually votes Republican, Bartlett attributed the results to a flood of negative advertising in the last weeks of the campaign.
“I had a better chance than anybody of holding the seat,” Bartlett said. “But this election was determined when the district lines were redrawn.”
Still, Bartlett said he was grateful for the chance to serve in Congress.
“I am a Depression-era kid who was born in Kentucky ... some days, I had to pinch myself to make sure this was all real,” he said.
A friend to soldiers
Bartlett, who worked at the National Institutes of Health and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory among other places before he took to politics, said he was proud of his work on the House Armed Services Committee.
Taylor, the former Democratic U.S. representative who served with Bartlett in the Seapower subcommittee, called him an honest broker who kept an eye on defense contractors.
“He wanted them to succeed, but he brought a healthy dose of skepticism,” Taylor said.