- - Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Republicans than Democrats have signed up to unseat Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the April primary, even though boundary changes made during redistricting favor Democrats in the general election.

So far, four Republicans and three Democrats have announced their campaigns to run in the recently redrawn 6th Congressional District, where the 85-year-old Mr. Bartlett, Frederick Republican, has served for the past 20 years.

Those seeking Mr. Bartlett’s seat are Republicans Robert Coblentz, Robin Ficker, Joseph Krysztoforski and Brandon Rippeon. Democrats Robert J. Garagiola, Milad Pooran and Duchy Trachtenberg have also announced bids.

Portions of Baltimore and Harford counties as well as Carroll County were taken away from the 6th District during redistricting. More of Montgomery County was put into the district, while another part of Montgomery County was removed and added to northern Frederick County to reform the 8th District.

“I’ve run and won in a Democratic majority registration Sixth District and never enjoyed the benefit of having a district drawn to pick voters for me,” Mr. Bartlett wrote in an e-mail. “I am proud to have enjoyed the support and votes from Democrats and independents as well as Republicans.”

In the past decade, the Maryland State Board of Elections shows the 6th District has had more registered Republicans than Democrats. Even in Mr. Bartlett’s first election win in 1992, which his staff cited as an example, there were more registered Republicans than Democrats. Data show there were 140,797 registered Republicans and 139,922 registered Democrats in that election, with both parties having more than 80 percent voter turnout.

Adding more of Montgomery County is expected to put more Democratic voters in the district. Montgomery County has the second-highest number of Democrats in the state at 322,981, elections board data shows.

Sixth District boundary changes make Bartlett one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, said Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz, who said he isn’t entirely convinced Mr. Bartlett will seek re-election. However, Mr. Bartlett is the only incumbent Maryland member of Congress to file for re-election.

“Republicans are in a kind of wait-and-see mode for a while about Bartlett,” said Mr. Kurtz, who speculated that national Republicans might be more willing to donate money to the race if someone other than Mr. Bartlett got the nomination.

So far, Mr. Bartlett has the most money of any candidate in the race, Federal Election Commission filings show, with $260,727 cash-on-hand.

Only two other candidates have reported any campaign funds, with Mr. Krysztoforski reporting $5,123 raised and Mr. Rippeon contributing $2,500 to his campaign and taking out a $47,500 loan. The next FEC reporting deadline is Jan. 31.

In 2010, an average, successful, congressional race cost $1.44 million, while an average winning campaign in Maryland cost $1.68 million, the Center for Responsive Politics reported. Mr. Bartlett spent $367,098 in 2010 and $204,443 in 2008, the center reported. He’s raised $3.45 million in his congressional career and has raised $606,097 for the past two elections.

Frederick County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Myrna Whitworth has hopes a Democrat can win in the 2012 election. The last Democrat to represent the district was Mr. Bartlett’s predecessor Rep. Beverly Byron of Frederick. She served in Congress from 1979 to 1993.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of attention paid to the 6th District, not only in the state but nationwide,” Ms. Whitworth said. “It’s not a given. I think we’re going to have a tough race and I’m confident we are going to have a good nominee coming out of the process to bring us victory in November.”

Three possible Democratic candidates have emerged, 39-year-old Mr. Garagiola, 34-year-old Mr. Pooran, and 57-year-old Ms. Trachtenberg. Mr. Garagiola has received several endorsements from Democratic leaders from the district.

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