Joe Volz: Do Congressional candidates really care about Frederick? -- Gazette.Net







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At the end of the year, we will have double the number of members of Congress representing Republican Frederick County — two instead of one.

But if you are a Republican, it’s not really something to write home about, particularly because there is a great likelihood both of those legislators will be Democrats, who would replace the one Republican we have now, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Buckeystown.

It’s a classic example of what is wrong with the way we choose the U.S. House of Representatives in redistricting by the state legislature after every decennial census, and it is not likely to change any time soon.

In our undemocratic gerrymandering tradition, the legislature draws up the lines to benefit the majority party in the legislature instead of giving the voters a chance to make a fair decision at the polls.

In Maryland, both houses are heavily Democratic. So if there is any chance to force a Republican congressman out of office through unfair gerrymandering, the Democrats will do it.

Is that democracy in action?

No Democrat in a position of responsibility is willing to help fix this bad system, from Gov. Marty O’Malley on down through state Sen. Ron Young of Frederick.

Why? Because government isn’t really about fair representation. It’s about electing as many of your party into office as possible. After all, the reasoning is, the other party would do it to you if it had the opportunity. It’s all about control.

Oh sure, we are going to have elections in the fall and a new boy from Montgomery County, John Delaney, will be running in a heavily-Democratic district against Bartlett. Unless Delaney — a millionaire businessman — stumbles over the huge pile of money he is spending, it is hard for him to lose in the 6th District, which covers Frederick city and Western Maryland.

In the new 8th District, which reaches to the Pennsylvania line, incumbent Democrat Chris Van Hollen — also a carpetbagger from Montgomery — will have even less trouble winning. Even Mickey Mouse could run as a Democrat this year and win these two districts.

Now, I am not contending for a minute that these two men (not Mickey) are highly qualified to represent us even though there is no indication they plan to move to Frederick. After all, Frederick doesn’t have the cachet of Montgomery.

And that’s another point. Fredericktonians, even without Lennie Thompson (R) on the Board of County Commissioners, see ourselves differently than do Montgomeryites. Thompson wanted to limit access to the county and keep the population down.

But we have a good highway system and hopefully Van Hollen, already a leader in the House, and Delaney will drive up for a visit once in a while. If they really want to get to know us, Van Hollen could move to Thurmont and Delaney to Frederick city.

I am not sure how well Delaney and Van Hollen understand Frederick. They showed up at a pep rally at the Weinberg Center a couple of weeks ago, and there was no indication by the generalities they sputtered to party faithful that they knew much about Frederick.

Attorney General Doug Gansler, also from down south, who is running for governor in two years, introduced our worthies, announcing there is “nothing wrong” with having 85-year-old Congressman Bartlett, “but he’s been here too long.”

That is a common refrain from newcomers who haven’t been here at all, except for the occasional drop-in during the past few months.

Van Hollen said, “It’s great to be here in Western Maryland.”

That’s not helping us Fredericktonians very much.

And Delaney offered this insight on Frederick. He said Gansler told him to “be true to yourself.”

In other words, our candidates did not reveal too much about themselves and particularly how much they did or didn’t know about Frederick County. It was all platitudes.

Delaney did make a revelation, though: “I need your help running against a congressman who is smart.”

Now, what are you guys going to do for Fort Detrick and small businessmen and farmers and the things that interest us?

And, of course jobs, jobs, jobs. Right here.

Joe Volz, a former Pulitzer Prize finalist, has written for newspapers in New York and Washington. You can reach him at To submit a letter to the editor in response to this column, email