Maryland Senate Majority Leader Sen. Robert J. Garagiola Tuesday concluded his campaign kickoff tour for the 6th Congressional District in Washington County among supporters of the county Democratic Central Committee.
Hagerstown was the final stop for the Montgomery County Democrat on a four-county tour of the redrawn 6th District, now held by Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett who is seeking an 11th term.
Characterizing his record as a practical, common-sense approach to getting things done in Annapolis, Garagiola downplayed party affiliation in his work in the General Assembly, as well as in his bid for the 6th District, which was redrawn to bring more Democrats into what had been a mostly Republican Western Maryland district.
"To me the party label is not the important thing," Garagiola said. "I'm looking to be an effective representative for all the people in Western Maryland."
At campaign appearances, he portrayed himself as an independent-minded candidate dedicated to middle-class job creation and ending partisan deadlock in Congress, according to the Associated Press.
"We need to do something about moving this economy forward again," he said. "We need jobs back on the agenda in Congress. I've been very frustrated over the last year that this Congress really hasn't focused on the jobs agenda or on trying to move this economy forward."
Infrastructure investment, targeted tax incentives for small businesses and education investment are a few of the tactics Congress can use to stimulate economic and job growth, he said.
Garagiola joins a field of at least one other Democrat and five Republicans, including Bartlett, vying for a 6th District nomination in the April 3 primaries.
At the first day's stop in Frederick, Md., he sought to erase perception among voters that he walks in lockstep with Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is sparring with rural conservatives over his administration's plans for curbing residential sprawl, the AP reported.
In Washington County Tuesday evening, he pointed to his record investing in renewable energy, the economy and health care, as well as his history representing a portion of Montgomery County that includes agricultural communities.
As state senator he has worked with and disagreed with both Republican and Democratic governors in Maryland, he said.
Emphasizing how he defeated a veteran GOP incumbent in 2002 for his upper Montgomery County state Senate seat by reaching out to all parties, he said his campaign for the 6th District will take a similar approach.
Garagiola spent the evening at Fountain Head Country Club mingling with about 20 supporters of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee.
Committee Chairwoman Elizabeth Paul emphasized that the $250-a-plate fundraiser was for the committee, not Garagiola, who would not receive any of the proceeds.