WASHINGTON COUNTY — Editor's note: This is one in an occasional series of profiles about candidates running for election in the 6th Congressional District.
While working on U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge's campaign last year, Robert Coblentz became a Republican.
Coblentz said he heard Rutledge interviewed on the radio, liked his conservative views and decided to help him. He was an independent voter, but decided that the Republican Party matched his values and principles.
Rutledge lost a Republican primary, but won Washington County.
Now, Coblentz, 33, who lives near Williamsport, is a candidate himself. He's running for the 6th Congressional District seat now held by fellow Republican, U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.
"I didn't like the direction the country is going," Coblentz said.
Spending under Obama has been bloated, with no accountability for where the money goes, he said.
For example, Coblentz said he disagrees with sending billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, which apparently provided a safe harbor for Osama bin Laden.
Coblentz said he also agrees with the tea party movement's criticism of excessive government spending and bailouts for failing industries.
To turn around the economy, "government needs to get out of the way," he said.
His other main goals include repealing Obama's health care package, reforming the tax code and making sure immigrants come to America legally, he said.
Coblentz is a systems analyst for American Public University System, an online university based in Charles Town, W.Va. He said he also is enrolled at the school, pursuing a master's degree in American politics and government.
He is currently the vice president of the Washington County Republican Club.
During a special session this week, the Maryland General Assembly approved Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan for new congressional boundaries, including a 6th District with more of Democrat-heavy Montgomery County.
Bartlett filed to run on June 30. His office said Wednesday that Bartlett still plans to run for an 11th term despite the new configuration of the district.
As of Thursday, Coblentz was one of four Republicans who had filed to run against Bartlett. The others were Robin Ficker, Joseph T. Krysztoforski and Brandon Orman Rippeon.
On the Democratic side, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg is running. State Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola has said he'd probably run if the new 6th District were favorable and likely will make an announcement next week, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
Primary elections will be held on April 3, 2012, and the general election on Nov. 6, 2012.