By CARL STRAUMSHEIM
WASHINGTON—With days to go until the election and a recent poll showing a statistical dead heat, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and Democrat John Delaney are storming the 6th Congressional District to persuade the remaining undecided voters to give them the edge on Tuesday.
The 6th District is the competitive exception to Marylands other congressional races, whose incumbents are all expected to win re-election. A Delaney win in the district, which was redrawn to favor Democrats, could help chip away at the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Should Bartlett prevail, however, he will have foiled an attempt by Democrats in Annapolis to redistrict him out of his seat.
Voters have a clear choice, said Ted Dacey, Bartletts campaign manager.
Regardless of who wins, the result will, in some ways, defy party expectations. A Bartlett win would send a powerful message to the national Republican Party, which has provided little support for his 10th re-election bid. Delaneys election would be a slight comeuppance for Maryland Democrats, who backed state Sen. Rob Garagiola, D-Montgomery, in the primary.
Throughout the campaign, Delaney has argued that his background as a financier makes him more credible on economic issues. He has also attempted to tie Bartlett to the tea party movement and a historically unpopular Congress.
Justin Schall, Delaneys campaign manager, said the Democrat would not alter that message ahead of the election.
The status quo isnt working in Washington, Schall said. Thats why we need Johns real-world experience creating jobs and growing small businesses along with a real commitment to get things done rather than getting bogged down in tea party extremism.
Delaneys schedule shows he will campaign in every county but Garrett before Election Day, when he will focus on Frederick. He will gather supporters at the Bolger Conference Center in Potomac to await election returns.
Bartlett canceled all campaign events through Wednesday after superstorm Sandy blanketed Garrett County with a heavy, wet snow that toppled trees and knocked out power for much of the area. He will join phone bank volunteers from the campaign office in Montgomery Village up until Election Day. The campaign has yet to announce a location for election night.
Bartlett has focused on his experience as a 10-term congressman and touted his willingness to work with Democrats. He has sought to undermine Delaneys argument by suggesting he hasnt come clean about his personal record at CapitalSource, the commercial lending bank he cofounded.
Dacey said Bartlett would stress the differences between himself and Delaney during the last days of the campaign.
If (voters) want to continue with the failed policies of Barack Obama, they should vote for John Delaney, Dacey said. However, if they want an independent voice in Washington that will fight for a balanced budget, lower taxes and responsible government, the only choice is Roscoe Bartlett.
Delaney has outraised Bartlett by more than $2.6 million. Despite that fundraising advantage, a recent poll from The Baltimore Sun showed a tie: Delaney led with 42 percent to Bartletts 41—well within the polls 4 percent margin of error. Bartletts support comes from men, seniors and rural voters, which is balanced against Delaneys coalition of women, younger voters and Montgomery County residents.
The poll also showed one in 10 likely voters are undecided about which candidate to back.
As the deadlines to vote early or request an absentee ballot have expired, Maryland voters will head to their polling places one last time on Election Day, when polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.