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As Long as We Remember...

September 22, 2003

A Rolle Challenge Might Dispel Notion of Divine Right

David 'Kip' Koontz

Scott Rolle versus Congressman Roscoe Bartlett. Would be an interesting match-up to watch.

One has to wonder though on which issues the two might differ as both are on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

This week Governor Robert Ehrlich was in town for the fair and weighed in on the matter saying that he would support the re-election effort of Mr. Bartlett over his "good friend" Mr. Rolle, should he decide to give the run a go.

Party aside, one has to wonder how Mr. Ehrlich can continue the masquerade of claiming to be a more moderate, inclusive Republican if he can in good conscience endorse someone who is clearly not a moderate, inclusive Republican.

Congressman Bartlett needs a challenge.

General election notwithstanding, Mr. Bartlett needs to be challenged on his positions and where he stands on the issues and having it come from inside the party is a great place to start.

Again, if Mr. Rolle can find anything with which he disagrees with Mr. Bartlett.

Congressman Bartlett has been an ineffective representative for the district, even going so far as to vote against funding to make the ongoing upgrades of the I-70 and I-270 connection.

So, maybe Mr. Rolle's motivation to run is that he thinks there can be better representation for the district.

That, to many people, is a no-brainer.

As one listens to speculation and discussion of this potential race, one has to take into consideration the fact that Mr. Rolle has had every desire to run for Congress for some time.

Many think that State Senator Alex Mooney has his eye on the congressional seat as well, and it was by driving for Congressman Bartlett that he learned everything he needed to know to serve in public office.

But there is one stumbling block to their potential bids that many didn't think would happen and that is Joe Bartlett, who managed to coattail his way to a delegate seat on daddy's name. Now many view him as the elder Bartlett's heir apparent.

Mr. Bartlett senior has been quoted as telling a friend something along the lines of how he would serve how ever long necessary - including dieing in office so that Joe might get appointed to the seat, to ensure that his son would in some way get into Congress.

So, that leads us back to Mr. Rolle.

What better time really would he have to position himself as a legitimate option to Mr. Bartlett? He wouldn't lose his State's Attorney seat by running; he is a good campaigner, proven fundraiser and would most likely give Mr. Bartlett a real run for his money.

But, "the party" establishment, including the governor, doesn't want to cause a schism in the party by having a challenger to the most high Congressman Bartlett.

We saw what happened to the Democrats when a serious challenger - Delegate Tom Hattery - ran against incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Beverly Byron in the primary. He won.

Some say the wounds from that election - the one that gave us Mr. Bartlett, still causes pains and problems for the Democrats to this day.

The Republicans are in the catbird seat right now, holding most every office from Carroll County to the state's western edge-most of the 6th District.

A challenge to the highest office holder in that area may indeed cause some imbalance in the Republican equilibrium, which would be good unless you buy into the theory that the seat is somehow only Mr. Bartlett's seat.

A challenge may make the Republicans think about whom they want to represent them and why.

A challenge may make the Republicans think about the issues and where they stand on them and why.

Both things many Republicans (and some Democrats too) really need to do.

Congressman Bartlett did not get his seat, nor does he retain it, nor can he pass it on because of some kind of divine right. It is an elected position.

It would be a very, very good thing to remind him of that.

A Scott Rolle challenge might do just that.

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