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Bartlett's absence from forum doesn't stop challenges to his record

Six of the seven candidates seeking to unseat the 10-term incumbent in Tuesday's primary attended the event

March 27, 2012|By PETE McCARTHY | pmccarthy@fredericknewspost.com
File photo

The incumbent all the candidates are chasing for the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District was noticeably absent Tuesday night, but it did not stop the crowded field of candidates from challenging U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and his record.

Six of the seven candidates seeking to unseat the 10-term incumbent in Tuesday’s  primary focused on their goals and took some opportunities to rebuke their fellow challengers during a forum at Frederick Community College.

Del. Kathy Afzali, state Sen. David Brinkley, Robert Coblentz, Robin Ficker, Peter James and Joseph Krysztoforski touched on a wide array of issues, including the economy, transportation improvements, securing the country’s borders and the current state of Congress.

“It’s a referendum on the incumbent,” Brinkley said of the number of candidates challenging for the nomination. “I supported Roscoe Bartlett for 20 years. ... In two decades he has made little difference. ... We got into this mess one election at a time; on April 3, we can get out of it.”

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Brinkley touted his accomplishments in the Maryland Senate and said he understands the needs of the district and can address them.

The forum — attended by about 100 residents — was sponsored by The Frederick News-Post, The (Hagerstown)Herald-Mail, Frederick Community College and WFMD.

Coblentz said he wants to improve the economy by getting the federal government to promote jobs.

“This will allow the American worker to be more confident,” Coblentz said. “We have to encourage the American businesses and the American people.”

On a question about the low approval rating of Congress, Ficker said gas prices at nearly $4 a gallon will not help the cause. Ficker also said that it’s time to end the military action overseas.

“I think we need some Republicans who don’t want to be in the military forefront,” Ficker said. “... Bring those boys home from Afghanistan right now and don't get involved in Iran.”

Afzali, a freshman member of the House of Delegates, said she is a proponent of agriculture and would be cautious about taking away too many subsidies for farmers.

“Right now, our farming communities are under assault,” she said. “Barack Obama has passed regulation upon regulation on farmers. ... With the farmers hurting so much, we want to continue to support them.”

Krysztoforski said he would “return common sense” to Congress and focus on the economy and rising energy costs.

“Businesses create jobs, government does not create jobs,” he said. “Limit regulations. ... We have to emancipate the economy, not stymie the economy.”

James focused on the Constitution and said he would offer a dramatic change.

“I’m the guy who can figure out stuff that people can’t seem to figure out,” James said. “... We’re going into the mother of all economic collapses. You need somebody who won’t have the wool pulled over their eyes.”

Several candidates said they favored road improvements to Interstates 70 and 270. They agreed the nation has to stop relying on foreign oil.

Bartlett was unable to attend the forum due to scheduled votes inWashington, D.C.Candidate Brandon Orman Rippeon said he was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.

The Republican winner Tuesday will face one of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the newly redrawn 6th District.

Such a dramatic challenge in the Republican primary to Bartlett had some of the residents in attendance wondering what the other candidates might have to offer.

Chip Crum, a registered Republican from Frederick, said he has been a supporter of Bartlett, but is unsure if one of the other candidates might prevail.

“They are running for a seat that’s been occupied for a while. ... He may yet prevail, but I need to know who these folks are and what their positions are,” Crum said. “We need to know what to do in case he loses in the primary.”

Crum was surprised there were so many candidates challenging to unseat the incumbent, but said it became evident something was amiss in the party when Bartlett’s former Chief of Staff Bud Otis suddenly stepped down amid rumors of a possible challenge against his boss.

“I think folks smelled blood in the water,” Crum said.

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