Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett's chief of staff has resigned after reports emerged that he might run for the congressman's seat next year.
Harold "Bud" Otis resigned Wednesday night, a Bartlett spokeswoman said. Several news outlets reported this week that Mr. Otis had contacted officials in the 6th District, asking whether they would support him in a race if Mr. Bartlett, 85, chooses to retire.
"I didn't ask for" his resignation, Mr. Bartlett said in a statement. "I agreed with Bud that the flurry of separate news articles about his recent activities made it impossible for him to continue to serve me and the residents of the 6th District of Maryland effectively."
Observers have widely speculated that the 10-term incumbent may retire next year, pointing out his age and low fundraising totals. However, Mr. Bartlett has insisted he will seek re-election.
The 6th District will likely be one of the nation's most competitive races next year largely because the Democrat-controlled General Assembly redrew the traditionally conservative district this year to include more Democratic voters.
Several Republicans have expressed interest in replacing Mr. Bartlett, and the field became more crowded Thursday, when state Republican Party Chairman Alex X. Mooney and state Sen. David Brinkley each announced they had formed an exploratory committee to raise money and look into a possible run.
Mr. Mooney, a former state senator, did not make clear whether he would seek office only if Mr. Bartlett retires, or whether he would challenge the congressman in a primary.
"With the recent news about Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's longtime chief of staff preparing to run for Congress and the Democratic Party's cynical and corrupt redistricting plan to oust Congressman Bartlett, I felt it was time for me also to start an exploratory committee for Congress," Mr. Mooney said in a statement.
Five Republicans and three Democrats have filed as candidates, according to the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Bartlett has filed, but Mr. Otis, Mr. Mooney, Mr. Brinkley and other Republicans considering runs — including state Sen. Christopher B. Shank — have not.
The front-runner among Democrats is state Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola, who on Thursday received an endorsement from Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.
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