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Washington County Democrats energized by key contests

October 06, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

With a month to go before what many consider one of the most crucial elections in U.S. history, Democrats in Washington County are starting to energize, according to a local party official.

In addition to President Obama’s re-election bid against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the race for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District between longtime GOP incumbent Roscoe Bartlett and Democrat John Delaney has helped get people more involved this year, said Elizabeth Paul, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee.

“I feel it’s really going well,” she said. “I think this congressional race, in particular, with Delaney and Bartlett has energized a lot of people who in the past didn’t pay too much attention because there was a 70 percent Republican majority. There wasn’t much of a chance. Now, with it being closer to 50/50, it’s really getting people energized, along with, of course, President Barack Obama’s re-election (campaign) is bringing out new voters.”

As a way to continue rallying local support for the party, the county’s Democratic Central Committee held a joint election-year gala with the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Labor Council on Saturday night that drew about 120 people to Fountain Head Country Club north of Hagerstown.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski served as the evening’s keynote speaker, and remarks also were delivered by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, Comptroller Peter Franchot and state Democratic Party Chairwoman Yvette Lewis.

Delaney was scheduled to attend the event, but canceled the night before due to a last-minute schedule conflict, according to one of his staff members who attended on his behalf.

Chip Cook, vice president of the local AFL-CIO Labor Council, said it was the first time they have held a joint event such as this with the local Democratic group, but it made sense since they have similar interests.

“We decided to join together and honor the labor people and also the Democratic people at the same time,” Cook said.

Two awards were given out during the evening — Larry N. Barron was honored by the AFL-CIO with its 2012 Bobby Fouche Memorial Labor Award and Linda Irvin-Craig received the 2012 N. Linn Hendershot American Spirit Award from the Democratic committee for their leadership and achievement in their respective fields.

Gansler, who presented the Bobby Fouche award, said the current national debate is about the direction of the economy and jobs, and the leadership of Obama and Delaney would be key in helping to turn Maryland into a more attractive location for business that will boost the middle class.

“We need to get manufacturing to come to Western Maryland and help the middle class because if you get people jobs then they can reinvest it in their community,” he said. “Right now, we’re getting our clock cleaned by Pennsylvania and Virginia because we don’t have a competitive tax structure and we don’t have a concern about bringing business here.”

Cook said the loss of the Unilever ice cream plant on Frederick Street was just the latest example of regression for the county’s labor work force, which has struggled in the current economy.

“Delaney is the first (Democratic) candidate that we’ve had with this kind of experience,” he said. “We hope with that, he’s going to remember Washington County, working just as hard for us as he will down the road.”

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