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Md. state senator touts record in his bid for Congress

March 14, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Robert J. Garagiola
Robert J. Garagiola

Editor’s note: This is one in an occasional series of profiles about candidates running for election in the 6th Congressional District.

State Sen. Robert J. Garagiola said he’ll gladly compare his record to anyone else’s in the 6th Congressional District race.

The Montgomery County Democrat said he’s particularly proud of working to expand Maryland’s renewable energy, leading to an “explosion” of jobs in that industry.

“I’ve done a number of bills, that I’ve authored, that I’ve done the heavy lifting on, I’ve rolled my sleeves up on, and moved the state forward on — on solar, on wind, on geothermal, on solar thermal ... on energy efficiency, on reducing energy consumption,” Garagiola said.

Congress, bogged down by ideological partisanship, has been “lacking” leadership on the issue, he charged.

“There’s been no leadership on it. They haven’t been able to move forward what’s called a renewable portfolio standard that we have here in Maryland, and we have had since 2004, and we continue to build on,” Garagiola said.

Garagiola, the Senate majority leader, started criss-crossing the 6th District last year to gather support, even before new boundaries were official.

But he said there was no “coronation” for him as Democrats redrew the district to create a steeper challenge for Republican incumbent Roscoe G. Bartlett to win an 11th term.

“Was the district created with me specifically in mind? Of course not,” Garagiola said. “I mean if it was, why have the primary April 3, the week before the (legislative) session adjourns?”

Garagiola has been locked in a contentious battle with Democratic opponent John Delaney, with the two attacking each other almost daily.

One of Delaney’s criticisms was Garagiola’s failure to list on ethics disclosure forms his income as a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig, where he worked from 1998 to 2003.

Garagiola said it was an oversight; the form seemed to ask only for income derived from being an owner or partner. For the same reason, he also didn’t disclose income from his current job as a lawyer with Stein, Sperling, Bennett, De Jong, Driscoll, P.C., he said.

There was no attempt to “hide the ball” on ethics forms or on campaign and Senate web pages, he said.

“I didn’t put down I was a newspaper boy, either,” or any of the other jobs he held while growing up, Garagiola said.

In his paralegal-type job with Greenberg Traurig, Garagiola helped with litigation support, research, hearing summaries and advocacy for rural hospitals, community health centers, and a therapy cap on elderly Medicare beneficiaries, he said.

Garagiola said he’s been true to his principles as a senator, supporting measures boosting Maryland’s public education system, helping farmers and legalizing same-sex marriage — a bill for which he was a lead sponsor.

He has advocated for a gradual gas-tax increase to pay for transportation projects, but said Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed 6-percent sales tax on gas is “a little steep,” and he doesn’t support it.

Three other Democrats are competing in the April 3 primary, including Dr. Milad L. Pooran, Charles Bailey and Ron Little.

Bartlett’s GOP challengers are state Sen. David R. Brinkley, Del. Kathryn L. Afzali, former Del. Robin Ficker, Joseph T. Krysztoforski, Brandon Orman Rippeon, Robert Coblentz and Peter James.

Name: Robert J. Garagiola
Date of birth: Sept. 5, 1972
Hometown: Germantown
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Rutgers University in 1994; law degree from George Washington University Law School in 2001.
Occupation: Attorney with Stein, Sperling, Bennett, De Jong, Driscoll, P.C.
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: In his third term as a state senator; Senate majority leader since 2011; former staffer for U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J.

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