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Washington County Democrats hold annual picnic

August 23, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WILLIAMSPORT ? The Washington County Democratic Central Committee hosted its annual picnic Thursday night at the Williamsport Red Men Lodge.

More than 230 people attended the event, which came one day after the Washington County Republican Club held its annual picnic in Smithsburg.

While no elected Democrats attended the party's picnic, the event did draw Democrat Andrew Duck, who will run in next year's election for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, an eight-term incumbent in Maryland's 6th District.

"These are loyal Democrats to come out even on a day like this," Duck said, referring to the dreary, overcast sky.

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Duck said the picnic has grown in numbers every year. He attributed the increase to a sense of unhappiness among voters with national politics.

"The issues affecting this country really transcend party," Duck said. "People are unhappy with the war, they're unhappy with health care. They want someone in Congress who will listen to them."

Republicans outnumber Democrats in Washington County by about 6,000 voters, according to data collected by the Maryland Board of Elections during last year's gubernatorial election. The total number of voters in Washington County is 74,446, according to the data.

"The truth is it takes both parties to get elected in this county," said Republican County Commissioner William J. Wivell, who attended both the Republican and Democratic picnics. He said voters in Washington County are not split as much along party lines as they are by issues that are important to them.

Pat Heck, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee, agreed.

"I've spoken to several Republicans who are unhappy with this or that," said Heck, who is in her first year with the committee. "I don't get the sense that people here are voting for a party as much as they are voting for a person."

Heck said the county's Democratic Party has enjoyed increased registration and support from independents this year. She said she thinks much of the party's momentum can be attributed to Democrats such as Howard Dean, who ran against President Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

"Dean was the single best thing to happen to the party," Heck said. "He built the idea that every locality matters." She said that is especially important for an area such as Washington County that does not regularly draw candidates for state or national office.

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