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6th District race: How Swede it is

January 11, 2012|By TIM ROWLAND | timr@herald-mail.com
  • Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

I generally don’t like to associate with Democrats, at least not the ones with underpants-tracking Twitter accounts, but I have to say that I am in their debt this year for setting the wheels in motion for this Crazy Little Thing Called the 6th Congressional District race.

Apparently, the Democratic National Committee identified the Maryland 6th as being one of an estimated two congressional districts nationwide that they might actually have a snowball’s chance of wresting control from Republicans this fall.

But that would only happen if the state’s Democratic majority in Annapolis manipulated the boundary lines so as to lump traditionally conservative Western Maryland voters in with voters from Sweden.

So they did.

This is bad news for Republicans and sitting 6th District Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, since Sweden (aka Montgomery County) apparently is problematic from an age standpoint. Conventional wisdom holds that the elderly Bartlett’s “sweet spot” among voters is with those who are between the ages of 79 and acute fossilization.

Republicans say Democrats had this in mind when they redrew the boundaries, and, if this is true, we might have the first established case of political geriatricmandering.

Western Maryland Republicans are clearly angry that the Democratic National Committee is trying to get rid of Bartlett, so in response, Republicans have boldly decided to get rid of him first.

A number of Republicans roughly equal to the entire cast of “War of the Worlds” immediately formed “exploratory committees,” which sounds like something you would do if you were looking for the Northwest Passage, but, in point of fact, are groups of political buzzards assessing the odds of offing the old man.

They don’t come out and say that Bartlett is too unfirm, of course, but they take pains to obliquely get the point across. They announce their candidacies on an episode of “This Old House” to the background music of “Old Time Rock ’n Roll” while wearing a wardrobe provided by Old Navy.

Of course, just when you think you have things figured out, along comes yet another Republican who says he’s starting a petition drive to overthrow the new redistricting plan altogether.

Like what, didn’t he get the memo? And then, he even gets the tentative support of petitioner extraordinaire Del. Neil Parrott, who had been named Washington County chairman for Alex Mooney’s 6th District campaign.

I’m lost. Wouldn’t it be awkward for Neil to petition away a district that his own candidate had just won? Maybe his slogan was: “We want the 6th District boundary lines thrown out, unless, of course, Alex Mooney wins the primary, in which case forget I brought it up.”

But then Mooney, who has already raised $100,000 for the race and named a “campaign chair” for every county east of the Mississippi, holds a news conference to announce that — he’s not running.

So this leaves Bartlett with a mere six challengers, including Robert Coblentz, Joseph Krysztoforski and Del. Kathy Afzali, whose last names will, I’ll save you the trouble, earn you 21, 36 and 18 points, respectively, in a game of Scrabble. The race also includes former delegate and serial heckler Robin Ficker, who is running on the promise that he won’t raise Maryland’s gas tax.

Well? Makes about as much sense as any of it.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on www.antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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