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Next for Delaney, Bartlett: transition

November 07, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • U.S. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett pauses for a moment Tuesday while campaigning at Northern Middle School.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

The House of Representatives moves fast, said Lisa Wright, U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett’s press secretary for about 18 of his 20 years in Congress.

Members who lost in Tuesday’s election — Bartlett was one — will have two weeks to pack up their Capitol Hill offices.

Complicating the departure will be a “lame-duck” session of Congress that starts Tuesday, Nov. 13.

When Bartlett, a Republican, leaves office in a few months, Democrat John Delaney, who was elected on Tuesday, will step in. Delaney will be in the freshman class of representatives sworn in when the 113th Congress convenes in early January.

Delaney, 49, of Potomac, Md., soundly defeated Bartlett, 86, of Buckeystown, Md., on Tuesday, with 59 percent of the vote to Bartlett’s 38 percent.

Delaney was aided by a 6th District in which the party enrollment reversed from majority Republican to majority Democrat in last year’s redistricting process.

A strong Delaney showing in Democrat-heavy Montgomery County was expected.

What surprised Republican Hagerstown Councilman-elect Donald F. Munson, though, was that Bartlett lost GOP-leaning Washington County. Delaney had 48 percent of the Washington County vote and Bartlett had 47 percent.

Wright said Bartlett wasn’t doing interviews on Wednesday or Thursday so he could have some “quiet reflection with his family.”

Delaney spent much of Wednesday with his family, said his campaign manager, Justin Schall.

The day after the election, Delaney’s campaign team was just starting to think about what happens next.

New members of Congress will have an orientation session next week, Schall said.

He said Delaney will have “big shoes to fill” succeeding Bartlett.

“We might not agree on policy,” he said, “but I certainly respect how hard they worked on constituent service.”

Part of the transition from Bartlett to Delaney will involve transferring outstanding constituent cases, Wright said.

The cases are problems constituents have had with the workings of government — such as getting Medicare coverage or veterans’ benefits — rather than objections to policies.

Wright guessed that hundreds of those cases are pending. They require confidentiality agreements for the member of Congress to be an advocate.

She said each constituent will be contacted in the coming weeks. There’s no guarantee they will know about the change in office before they are contacted.

The cases are handled at district offices, of which Bartlett has four — one each in Westminster, Frederick, Hagerstown and Cumberland.

District offices don’t have to be vacated on the same schedule as the Washington, D.C., office because they are leased, Wright said.

She said there are seven people total working at the district offices. On Capitol Hill, Bartlett’s office includes about 10 staffers and interns, she said.

For Bartlett’s first few terms, he was in the Cannon House Office Building, the oldest congressional office building.

Then, he accepted a move to the Rayburn House Office Building. Wright said the Rayburn offices are an upgrade — they have half-baths, a kitchenette, walled-off space and other amenities.

Offices are assigned through a lottery system.

Members pick from a pool of furniture for their Capitol Hill offices, she said. Carpet and drapes are only changed occasionally.

Wright said that after election results were known, Bartlett emphasized during his speech that he wants a smooth transition.

As he gets adjusted, Delaney will have a support system in the rest of the Maryland delegation, which is made up of eight other Democrats and one Republican.

Wright said the Maryland delegation meets monthly for lunch and has occasional hearings on issues of interest.

“The delegation has a tradition of working together in the state’s interests,” she said.

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