Potomac businessman John Delaney was not U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett’s first choice as an opponent in the 6th Congressional District race, but the Republican incumbent said he looks forward to the challenge.
“Delaney and I are very similar in that we both have humble beginnings and worked successfully in the private sector,” Bartlett said. “But he has a lot more money than I do.”
The 10-term congressman said it would have been fun to run against state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown, primarily to poke at his record in the Maryland General Assembly and challenge him on the issue of creating jobs.
Delaney, a wealthy political newcomer, has no voting record to scour, but has been affiliated with liberal political causes and candidates for years. He also can lay claim to creating jobs in his role as a financier who gives loans to small businesses. Bartlett, a scientist and former college professor, is an inventor with a few patents to his name.
The primary winners grew up in blue collar homes; Delaney’s father was an electrician, while Bartlett said he started out as a “dirt poor farmer.” But Bartlett was quick to point to some key differences.
“I am even more confident of victory in November because voting for my Democrat opponent is a vote for [President Barack] Obama's and [Nancy] Pelosi's liberal policies, which are bankrupting our government and killing American jobs," he said in a statement.
Voters also can expect to hear more from Bartlett on his commitment to national defense and alternative energy sources.
The 85-year-old will be running in a district that, for the first time, gives the advantage to Democrats, with 43,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. Before the 6th District was revamped to include more of Montgomery County, Republicans had a 47 percent to 36 percent lead.
Bartlett beat seven challengers in what he said was a contentious race. The biggest threat to his seat, state Sen. David R. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market, received 20 percent of the vote; Bartlett’s numbers were more than double that with 43 percent. Brinkley’s polling numbers last week showed a more narrow margin, with just 2 percentage points between them.
Brinkley said in an interview he took the high road in the race, but Bartlett chose to go negative during the weekend by publicizing 911 tapes of a 2008 domestic dispute between Brinkley and his then spouse, Sallie Brinkley. Bartlett’s campaign denies responsibility.
“I don’t know if the last-minute negative tactic hurt, because I can’t quantify it,” Brinkley said. “But up until that happened we were within two points, and they had the same exact data.”
Brinkley said he called and congratulated the congressman, who asked for a sit-down meeting.
“We will see where that goes,” Brinkley said.
While the Republican race was tainted by personal attacks at the end, the Democratic candidates were doing damage to each other early on. Delaney called out Garagiola for not disclosing his income as a lobbyist when first elected to the state legislature in 2002, and for his connections with lobbyists in the banking industry. Garagiola took swipes at Delaney for being dubbed a “loan shark” by a Forbes Magazine columnist in 2006, and not living in the 6th District.
Delaney infused his campaign coffers with about $1 million of his own money, outspending Garagiola by 3-to-1, according to Garagiola’s campaign manager, Sean Rankin. Many said the district was redrawn to guarantee a win for Garagiola, who received an 11th-hour endorsement from Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
That was not enough to offset the endorsement Delaney received from former President Bill Clinton, who recorded robo-calls for the candidate. He beat Garagiola handily, with 54 percent of the vote, compared to Garagiola’s 29 percent.
Delaney did not waste much time celebrating. He and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D), also elected in the primary, were scheduled to meet Wednesday with Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis to discuss the coming campaign.
“We’re extremely excited by [Tuesday’s] result, but we are going to wake up and start working to win in November,” said Delaney’s spokesman Will McDonald. “We’re going to talk about real solutions for job growth, American values like fairness and opportunity, and how we can have a government on the side of the people.”