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DeArmon ready for Bartlett surge

August 17, 2000

DeArmon ready for Bartlett surge



By ROBERT PATRICK / Capital News Service


Donald DeArmon said he is not worried that Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, has about $230,000 more cash on hand than he does in their race for Maryland's 6th District seat.

DeArmon, a Democrat, is more interested in the other figures. He said the fact that he has raised $141,000 to Bartlett's $120,000 is an "indication that people are tired of Bartlett" and proof that the incumbent "is out of step with the district and the Maryland delegation."

Bartlett disagrees.

"I'll admit to being out of step with the Maryland delegation," he said, but how else do you represent a "very conservative district in a very liberal state?"

Bartlett said that fund raising is no measure of his popularity. Others appear to agree. Congressional Quarterly rates the 6th District, which Bartlett has held since 1992, as "safe Republican."

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According to the latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission, Bartlett had $285,000 in cash on hand on June 30 and DeArmon had $58,000 in the bank.

Bartlett explained his fund raising by saying he must "fit the race to the candidate." He said he does not want to overwhelm his opponent with money, spending 20 to 30 times what the opposition can spend, saying he tries to "win elections, not buy them."

The only other time that Bartlett has raised less than his opponent was in 1992, when he was first elected. His staff said he raised $300,000 that year, half of what his opponent raised.

In his first re-election bid, in 1994, he raised $371,000 to Democratic challenger Paul Muldowney's $266,000. The difference narrowed in 1996, when Bartlett raised $464,000 to Democrat Stephen Crawford's $390,000.

In 1998, Bartlett raised $482,000 to Democrat Timothy McCown's $2,625. But Bartlett said he only spent $600 on that election - the cost of one billboard - giving him a leg up on this year's race. Despite the light spending, Bartlett won the 1998 race by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent.

"When you're new to a seat, you're perceived as vulnerable," he said of his early fund raising. "Voters don't know you yet."

But DeArmon said Bartlett has been "very complacent" in this campaign. So far, Bartlett "has not paid any attention to my candidacy," DeArmon said. "He thinks he is completely safe."

DeArmon said he already spent $60,000 to 65,000 on the primary, and he plans a direct-mail effort and "cost-effective" media spending, such as radio and cable television. His campaign is currently run out of his house, and he said he is relying on a Web page and e-mail to take the place of an office and staff.

Most political candidates err in spending too much for overhead, he said, although he does plan to have an office by fall.

DeArmon also said he plans to walk the district as he did in the 1994 primary, which he lost before getting the chance to face Bartlett. He did not raise very much money then, he said, because he trusted his message to attract votes.

Bartlett insisted he is not taking DeArmon's candidacy lightly.

"We take all opponents seriously," said Bartlett, who called DeArmon a "very bright, very senior guy."

He said he is "not a very aggressive fund raiser," except when he has to be, and he is not planning any special fund-raising efforts this year. Bartlett said he had committed to some television advertising, but wouldn't be specific as to his plans for the fall.

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