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February 26, 2003

Despite His Claim To The Contrary, Bartlett Is Out-Of-Sync

Mike Kuster

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett recently discussed his future in the U.S. House of Representatives with The Gazette. Among his statements, Dr. Bartlett claimed to be in-sync with his constituents in the 6th Congressional District of Maryland. This can be discredited with an examination of other statements he made during this interview.

Dr. Bartlett states in the opening of the article that a legislator becomes more effective the longer one is in Washington. This can be very true. Over time, an effective legislator gains experience in garnering support for legislation, gains seniority and the seats on committees that come with seniority, and becomes a recognized leader within the chamber.

Why, then, has Dr. Bartlett voted for every term-limit bill that has come before him during his tenure? He claims that he will continue seeking re-election as long as his health allows. If the bills for which he voted had passed, Dr. Bartlett would be out of office.

Perhaps, it is his devotion to remaining "in-sync" with his constituents that led him to vote for term limits. Voters in the 6th District have historically supported term limits. Therefore, it would seem that Dr. Bartlett is voting by the polls rather than what he believes is best for the district. In a republic, it is the duty of a legislator to vote for what he or she believes is best for the state rather than voting based on poll results.

It is interesting that a Republican would vote in such a way after they berated President Clinton for "polling too much." Of course, President Bush has proven nobody can out-poll his administration.

Voters in the 6th District and across the country care more about a politician's honesty and integrity than his voting history. They want a representative to be as honest and upright as they are. If a legislator makes votes against the polls, voters will more than likely accept it as long as the legislator is honest and open about his or her reason for voting that way.

Voters proved this with the funding of the completion of the connection of I-270 and I-70. Dr. Bartlett voted against funding the construction to alleviate some of the horrendous congestion in the south of The City of Frederick. Dr. Bartlett's opposition cited his opposition to this project as a reason to vote for change. Dr. Bartlett explained his vote, and voters accepted it although it was out-of-sync with the voters wishes.

At this point, voters are left to wonder why Dr. Bartlett votes the way he does on term limits. He says one thing and does another. That is neither honorable nor honest. It also is out-of-sync with the 6th District.

Also during his interview, Dr. Bartlett discusses a successor. As if he should have any input in his successor, he reveals his hopes that his son, Delegate Joe Bartlett, would be his replacement.

While perfectly understandable, Dr. Bartlett is not only out-of-sync with his district, but this nation's founding principles. Our ancestors threw out the monarchy and the inherited offices that came with that form of government. Perhaps Joe Bartlett will run for Congress one day, but there's a heap of more viable Republicans from which to choose. The Gazette touched on the possible Republicans. One would think that Senator Alex Mooney, the Congressman's former driver and congressional aide, would be more along the lines of Dr. Bartlett's hopeful successors. Senator Mooney is by far the best bet for Republicans. He can raise more money than anyone in the 6th District, and that's without any help from the Republican Party's fundraising efforts.

Another viable candidate would be Frederick County State's Attorney Scott Rolle. Mr. Rolle has support across party lines and connections to elected Republicans in higher offices. His fundraising abilities and voter-appeal should not be overlooked.

When it comes down to a replacement for Dr. Bartlett, Delegate Bartlett would have a rough row to hoe. Besides a lackluster term in the House of Delegates, the only factor in his favor at this point is his name. Perhaps voters would believe they were voting for the incumbent congressman.

It seems that Dr. Bartlett is not only out-of-synch with the 6th District, but also with his own party in the district. I doubt very seriously that the leadership within the party would put Delegate Bartlett at the top of their list to replace Dr. Bartlett.

Of course, these two issues could be linked. Does Dr. Bartlett want to stay in office until his son is capable of replacing him? That could be awhile. Dr. Bartlett may believe in term-limits for everyone except his family. Of course, he's not voting that way, but most legislators know how a bill is going to fare on the floor long before they cast their votes. So, he can vote the way the wind blows and know that term limits will not pass in the House of Representatives.

Is all that maneuvering "in-sync" with voters in Maryland's 6th Congressional District?

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