Let me revise and extend my remarks from last week — when I said it was unlikely that Democratic challenger John Delaney could beat incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett this fall in the 6th Congressional District race.
Having looked at Delaney’s campaign organization and the district demographics more closely, I am convinced Delaney can send Roscoe into retirement.
Delaney, who won the Democratic nomination in last week’s primary election, is a self-made millionaire, much admired up here in Reagan Country, who worked himself up from being a small businessman. Delaney’s principal platform issue is jobs, jobs, jobs, and he will ride into office on President Barack Obama’s coattails.
The newly-configured 6th District (let’s call it for what it is — an outrageous gerrymander) won’t hurt Delaney, even though it should.
The district, which stretches from Montgomery County into far western Maryland, used to have a Republican majority but not anymore. The district now has about 40,000 more Democrats than Republicans, and there also is a bunch of independents, about 20 percent.
Some heavily Democratic towns in northern Montgomery will help and so will the city of Frederick, with its Democratic majority.
So, unless Obama’s economy falls apart, Delaney should win and possibly a Democratic Congress will be elected, too.
This will be a heavily-watched race. Delaney has plenty of money to spend for expensive TV ads and Roscoe, who looks like the tired octogenarian he is, doesn’t. Unless the Republicans pump in a lot of money to save Roscoe he will lose his seat.
Meanwhile, Democrats may send in money and speakers, maybe even Bill Clinton, who did a robocall for Delaney.
Delaney’s remarkable victory in the Democratic primary, which was supposed to assure state Sen. Rob Garagiola’s triumph, was a wakeup up call to Gov. Martin O’Malley, state Senate President Mike Miller and such local leaders as state Sen. Ron Young and former Del. Sue Hecht, who all apparently thought that Garagiola could win while staying in Annapolis.
Whoever thought Delaney would be foolish enough to get into the race against such a lineup of heavy hitters?
Delaney already has opened an office in downtown Frederick, although, when I stopped by a couple of weeks ago, only one worker was there and said he couldn’t talk to me. I had to see the big PR man in Montgomery.
But Delaney actually did do some on-the-ground campaigning. They used to call it shoe leather campaigning, in which he actually rang doorbells. When Delaney’s pollster told him a month before the election that he was really pulling away, Delaney stepped up the campaigning and pumped about $1 million into his effort.
Here’s a guy who really wants the job.
Where was Roscoe? In hiding?
His idea of campaigning is sending out letters about how much money he has brought into Fort Detrick, or going on the Blaine Young radio show, where Blaine lobs a lot of softball questions at him and listeners call in tell him he is one heck of a congressman.
Blaine, by the way, is an active worker for Roscoe.
Joe Volz, a former Pulitzer Prize finalist, has written for newspapers in New York and Washington. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit a letter to the editor in response to this column, email email@example.com.