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Mooney to run Bartlett's campaign

November 16, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Jr. has recruited one of the state Republican Party's top fund-raisers to fatten his war chest for his 2004 re-election bid.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, will serve as campaign chairman, Bartlett announced Friday.

Mooney said the choice shows that Bartlett is taking seriously a primary challenge launched this week by Frederick County State's Attorney Scott Rolle.

Bartlett has not had a serious challenge from either party since he was elected in 1992.

Democrats have been unable to make inroads against Bartlett in the heavily Republican district, which became even more Republican with last year's redistricting plan.

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The 6th District now stretches across the top of the state, from Garrett County to Harford County.

Bartlett is not taking for granted a win in the March 2 primary, said Jim Dornan, a political consultant for Bartlett. Dornan worked as a spokesman for Ellen Sauerbrey when she ran against Gov. Parris Glendening.

Dornan said he was disappointed Rolle chose to run against an incumbent Republican instead of trying to target a Democrat such as Attorney General Joseph Curran.

Bartlett first captured the seat after incumbent Democrat Beverly Byron lost the primary, opening the race to Bartlett, a political newcomer.

Bartlett ran at a time when many Republicans weren't willing to run, Dornan said.

"Based on that reason alone, he should be able to choose when he should retire," Dornan said.

Bartlett, 77, and Rolle, 42, share most of the same conservative views. One issue they differ on is the death penalty, which Rolle supports.

Rolle said his top priorities are supporting President Bush and the war on terrorism, helping senior citizens get access to prescription drugs and ensuring that veterans receive top-quality care and housing facilities.

Most GOP elected officials in Washington County have already come out in support of the incumbent.

"I think Scott's way out of his element at this point," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

The Washington County Republican Central Committee's policy is to remain neutral in primary elections, said member Mark Boyer.

Boyer, who said he hasn't decided for whom he will vote, said no matter who wins the party will be better off.

"I'm a big fan of Congressman Bartlett's but I can't argue with the philosophy of Republicans debating who their candidate's going to be," he said.

So far, one Democrat has filed to run.

Kevin Shaffer, 46, an accountant for Allegany County government, has filed. Shaffer came in second to Donald DeArmon in the 2002 Democratic primary.

DeArmon said Friday he will not run against Bartlett.

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