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GOP miffed at Mayberry run

January 06, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Timothy R. Mayberry's decision to challenge fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett for the 6th Congressional District House seat has sparked anger among some GOP members in Washington County and elsewhere in Western Maryland.

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Several Republicans expressed surprise and indignation that Mayberry, the Maryland Republican Party treasurer, would run a primary campaign against an incumbent member of Congress from his own party. Several called on him to resign his party post.

"We're worried about trying to hold on to the House and Senate this year, and here he is running against an incumbent?" said Richard G. Everhart, a member of the Washington County Republican Central Committee. "It is totally wrong."

Mayberry, of Boonsboro, has filed to run against Bartlett in the March 7 primary. He has said he will keep his party post.

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Mayberry, 43, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. But he released a statement challenging Bartlett to debate him this month in Frederick, Md., and again next month in Washington County.

"As a fellow Republican, he knows that I have consistently challenged the powerful and well-entrenched, seeking no easy contests," he said.

Campaign spokeswoman Dee Richards said it is important for Mayberry to keep his job as Republican treasurer because he provides balance to a leadership that is tilted toward the large, urban parts of the state.

"Many of the Western Maryland counties recognize that Tim Mayberry's voice on the Central Committee is the only voice representing the small counties," she said.

Richards said some party opposition is "to be expected. A good Republican is going to want to stand by the incumbent Republican."

Richards noted that two GOP challengers defeated incumbent Republican state senators in the 1998 primary.

Several local Republicans suggested Mayberry's decision to challenge Bartlett would hurt him in future races.

"I think he committed political suicide," Everhart said. "I don't think he stands any chance of beating Congressman Bartlett, and I hope he doesn't."

Officially, party central committees must remain neutral in primary contests. But individually, many Republicans are sticking with Bartlett.

Mark D. Thomas, chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, also called on Mayberry to resign as state GOP treasurer. It might be different if he were seeking a position with no incumbent Republican.

"This is, to me, not a close call," he said. "What happens if you don't do anything but throw mud at an incumbent Republican and hand whoever the Democratic nominee is on a silver platter a lot of criticisms that can be attributed to an officer of the state party?"

Thomas said Mayberry seems motivated by personal gain more than anything else.

"It strikes me as impatient and imprudent," he said.

Mayberry has said he was approached by Republican activists in the 6th District who are upset by Bartlett's record on local issues.

Charles A. Johnson, the chairman of the Allegany County Republican Central Committee, said he does not know any Republican activists supporting Mayberry.

"That's also news to me. I would like to know who some of these activists are," he said. "I think Congressman Bartlett does a fantastic job and I think most of the voters feel the same way."

Bartlett said he sees little rationale for Mayberry's candidacy.

He also denied Mayberry's contention that he provided insufficient support of Fort Ritchie, a military base in Washington County that closed in 1998. Bartlett said he did everything he could to prevent the Base Realignment and Closure Commission from including the base on its hit list but voted for the final list because it was the only way to close unneeded installations.

"If you don't support the BRAC process, you're going to have total chaos," he said.

Even some Republicans who do not think Mayberry should give up his party post expressed confidence in Bartlett.

"I really wouldn't spend a lot of time discussing it at this point," said Victoria Nelson, who became embroiled in her own controversy when she challenged an incumbent Republican state senator two years ago.

While some Republicans have grumbled that Mayberry might hurt Bartlett's chances in the Nov. 7 general election, others expressed confidence Bartlett will win.

"The Democratic Party seems to continually put up very liberal candidates to run and I don't think that plays well here," said Mark K. Boyer, a member of the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

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