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Bartlett's challengers for congressional seat want debates

June 26, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Two candidates challenging U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett are pushing for at least eight debates before the Nov. 4 election - one in each 6th District county.

"The premise is I think the public should hear from us directly," rather than through the filter of spokespeople and news media, said Jennifer Dougherty, the Democratic nominee.

"I'm ready and anxious to debate both (opponents)," said Gary W. Hoover Sr., the Libertarian candidate on the ballot.

"Congressman Bartlett is certain he will be debating opponents, as he has in every previous election cycle," said his spokeswoman, Lisa Wright.

The specifics - when, where and how many times - haven't been decided.

Wright said Bartlett only will take part in forums and debates sponsored by "credible third-party organizations."

A forum organized by a candidate wouldn't qualify, but one held by, for example, the League of Women Voters or a news organization, would, she said.

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No matter who holds a forum, though, Bartlett's voting schedule in Congress takes precedence, she said.

Wright said Bartlett believes "voters need to judge what he does," which means focusing on the job he was elected to do.

Bartlett is seeking a ninth two-year term. He represents the 6th District, which includes Washington County and all or parts of seven other counties.

Asked if Bartlett would agree to eight debates in eight counties if they fit his schedule and if legitimate third-party groups sponsored them, Wright called that "a big hypothetical."

Hoover said he'd participate in a candidate event "sponsored by anybody, anywhere, anytime."

Dougherty said she'd rearrange her schedule for a forum.

"Any organization is fine with me," she said.

Dougherty said she and Hoover took part in a community group's forum in Harford County in April.

Bartlett didn't attend. Wright said he might have had another commitment that day.

League of Women Voters chapters in Harford and Frederick counties are planning forums for the congressional candidates, Dougherty said.

The Frederick County chapter will decide on its event at its next meeting, said Claire Kondig, a co-president of the chapter.

The Herald-Mail will sponsor a candidates' forum at Hagerstown Community College in October. The forum tentatively will include candidates for Congress and the Washington County Board of Education.

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